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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    Since 2020, Hannah is guest professor of the Spiel&&Objekt Master's program at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch in Berlin

    From 2013-2015 Mika was a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley

    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab

    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition

    Soft Interactive Technology 1 at KHB

    December 2,3,9,10,2016 10:00- 17:00 elab Weissensee Art Academy Berlin.

    In a morning, I push a button to start the electric kettle to make a cup of tea, turn on the radio by sliding the on/off switch and turn the knob to tune into the radio station I want to listen to. I open my laptop, slide my finger on the touch pad to open my mail software and type on the keyboard to answer an email that just came in…

    A familiar scene many of us experience. We are constantly interacting with technology without thinking too much about it. Have you ever thought about why we interact the way we do? Could the switch, buttons and knobs made in different ways with different materials that our whole experience of interacting with technology be different? Maybe we do not “push” a button nor “turn” a knob.. but some other way to interact with them.

    In this workshop, we will explore the design possibilities of alternative interaction with technology using textile as an example of soft interactive surface. Materiality, tactility and its surface aesthetic creates design language for textile. The choice of textile technique and motif may add social context to it. What can we do when these design language is combined with technology?

    We will start with looking at everyday textile materials. How do we interact with them? how are they designed to give us specific aesthetic experiences? Can we design soft interaction with technology that is as rich in its language as this piece of cloth?

    Secret Keeper by Meg Grant


    Activity 1:
    Examine the piece of fabric you have brought.
    -Material: what is it made of?
    -Tactility: How does it feel?
    -Aesthetic: How does it look? Is there certain style? How do you describe it?
    -Technique: How is it made? Is there something special in the way it is made?
    -Interaction/manipulation: How do you interact with it? Do you stroke? Flap? Squeeze? Fold? what do you do with them?
    -Story: Is there specific story embed in the fabric?

    e-Textile sensors


    Highly conductive textile materials
    Copper Ripstop Fabric Shieldex Kassel
    Company: Statex
    Characteristics: Corrosion proof copper-silver plated polyamide ripstop fabric, < 0.03 Ohms/cm2 surface resistivity.

    Shieldex Technik-tex
    Company: Statex
    Characteristics: Silver plated knitted fabric, 78% Polyamide + 22% Elastomer plated with 99% pure silver, < 2 Ohms/cm2 surface resistivity (front/visible side). stretchy in one direction

    High Flex 3981 7X1 Silver 14/000
    company: Karl Grimm
    Characteristic: Very conductive, Solder-able

    Elitex Fadenmaterial Art Nr. 235/34 PA/Ag
    company: Imbut GmbH
    Characteristic: silver conductive thread (100% polyamid beschichtet mit silber

    Materials: Resistive (not so conductive) textile materials
    Eeonyx non woven carbon resistive
    Company: Eeonyx
    Characteristics: Resistive material (2k), non woven, can be used to make pressure or bend sensor

    Eeonyx stretch woven carbon resistive
    Company: Eeonyx
    Characteristics: Resistive material (2k), knit/ jersey, Stretch in both direction. Can be used to make pressure or stretch sensor

    Nm10/3 conductive yarn
    Company: plug and wear
    Characteristics: Nm10/3 conductive yarn, 80% polyester 20% stainless steel, light grey, Surface resistance < 100000ohm

    conductive wool
    Company: Bekaert
    Characteristic: Wool fiber mixed with stainless steel fiber, Suitable for felting


    We can not see the electrons flowing. So we can not tell by looking if there is an electrical connection, or how much electrical resistance between one end to the other end of the circuit or a material.
    To measure this, we use a tool called multimeter. This will be your friend throughout the workshop. Here is how to use it.

    Check connection
    connection check
    turn the dial to arrow/sound sign. Place the probe to the to end of the part where you want to check the electrical connection. If there are connection, it will beep.

    Check Resistance
    Turn the dial to ohm mark part. there are few numbers on the ohm part, start from the smallest, or if you know roughly how much it should be, start with closest one. If it is on the diral 200 ohm, it means it will measure the resistance maximum 200ohm. If the resistance is bigger than 200ohm, it shows 1. like in the picture. In this case, turn the dial to bigger maximum range (for example 2000, or 20k (20,000)) to see if you start to see a number.

    Here is an example on how to read the measured resistance. The dial is set to 20M ohm (20,000,000 ohm), and you see 2.19 in the display. Where the period is shows the scale (if it is Mega or Kilo or without any scale). Since you are on Mega scale, this is 2.19 Mega Ohm (2,190,000 ohm). This is a bit confusing as if you are on 200k ohm dial and see 3.8, it is still 3.8 Kilo ohm (3,800 ohm). The number on your dial is not a multiplier. It just shows which scale you are in, and what is the maximum reading range.

    By using conductive textile materials (fabric/thread/yarn/wool) we can build textile sensors. Here are some examples of contact sensors (ON/OFF) and resistive sensors (value/slider). You can check the reading of the sensors using multimeters.

    Contact Sensor (ON/OFF)
    Tilt Switch

    Push Button

    Stroke Sensor


    Resistive Sensor (value)
    You are measuring the material’s electrical resistivity. The characteristics of the resistive material decides how the sensor behaves electrically.

    eeonyx non-woven: Pressure Sensor for heavy weight


    eeonyx non-woven: Slider/ potentiometer


    eeonyx non-woven/stretch, velostat: Bend Sensor


    eeonyx stretch: Stretch Sensor

    conductive yarn: Knit Stretch Sensor


    conductive yarn: Crochet Pressure Sensor


    Conductive Wool: Needle Felt/ Wet Felt Squeeze Sensor

    Activity 2:
    Examine the e-Textile sensors. How do they work?
    Do you find a sensor that senses the interaction/manipulation you’ve described in activity 1?
    Pick one sensor example and remake them.

    e-Textile Technique

    With conductive textile materials, you can apply textile techniques to build sensors and electrical connections. You can sew, knit, weave, crochet, embroider, fuse..
    The technique you choose may add texture, story and context to your interface.

    Conductive Fabric stripes fused onto fabric

    Embroidery with conductive thread examples. Chain stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch, couching

    reference projects

    Lily Corg by Afroditi Psarra


    Igne Oyasi
    Igne Oyasi Motor by Hannah Perner-Wilson


    Bobbin Lace
    Your Balance by Barbro Scholz


    Activity 3:
    Choose one or two textile techniques. What are the story/context this technique convey?
    Apply the technique to the sensor you have made previously and make a new sensor.
    Does your sensor now embed certain context/story?

    Workshop Assignment:
    Design a textile sensor that include the same design language as the piece of fabric you have brought.

    Here starts the part 2!

    Reading textile sensor with Arduino microcontroller

    What is Arduino>>
    If you have not install the Arduino IDE yet, please download from here and install >> https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software

    Digital Pin/ Analog Pin

    As we can read changing value of the textile sensors we’ve made with multimater, we can read them with microcontroller (Arduino) and use the sensor input value to control something.

    Arduino’s Analog Input pins reads voltage range between 0V – 5V (if running with 3.3v 0-3.3V). Digital Input pins reads voltage 0v or 5V. Check the sensor you have made. Is it an analog sensor (has range of input)? or a digital sensor (on/off switch)?

    Digital Sensor

    If you have a contact switch, your sensor indicates two state, contact (ON) or no-contact (OFF). We will need to read these two state with Arduino’s input pins. As it is only two state we need to indicate, we will use Digital input pin this time. The digital input pins can read 5V or 0V.

    Pull Down resister
    As your sensor has two state of contact and no-contact, we need to manipulate the voltage that goes into digital input pin with these states. If you connect one side of the contact switch to 5V, and the other to the input pin, the pin will be connected to 5V as you let the contacts touch. But when it is at no-contact state, it is not connected to 0V. Not touching anything does not mean it is 0V! You will need to add “pull down resister” to connect the open contact to 0V. The typical size of the pull down resister is 10k ohm or bigger.

    When you finish connecting your contact switch as above, you can upload example Arduino sketch DigitalReadSerial from (File/Examples/Basics/DigitalReadSerial)
    Open the Serial Monitor and check if you get 1 when you activate your contact switch, and 0 when it is not activated.

    how to use serial monitor >>

    Sensor value to Light

    We can now control “things” with our sensors. As an example, we can control LED light with our digital sensor.

    A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two-lead semiconductor light source. When a suitable voltage is applied to the leads, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diode)
    There are two things we have to take care when using LED.
    – LED has polarity. Make sure to connect LED in correct direction.
    You can tell the direction as the positive side usually has a longer leg, or a smaller triangle lead in the epoxy lens.

    – You will need to limit the current to suitable range.
    you can read here “why?” >>
    To limit the current, you need to add resisters in your circuit. You can calculate it yourself using Ohm’s law, or use online calculators like this one >> http://led.linear1.org/1led.wiz

    Now, you can think about how the light should behave as you make the contact/ push the button.

    example from Arduino IDE
    -BUTTON (as long as you are pressing the button, the LED is on)

    -STATE CHANGE DETECTION (it changes on/off state of the LED every time you push the button. The example is made for 3 more LEDs)

    here is the code for flashing LED with button
    // digital pin 2 has a pushbutton attached to it. Give it a name:
    int pushButton=3;
    int buttonState;
    int LEDpin=13;

    // the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
    void setup() {
    // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second:

    // make the pushbutton’s pin an input:
    pinMode(pushButton, INPUT);

    // the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
    void loop() {
    // read the input pin:
    buttonState = digitalRead(pushButton);
    // print out the state of the button:

    //if buttonState is 1, then turn on the LED
    if (buttonState ==1){
    //turn on the LED
    digitalWrite(LEDpin, HIGH);
    // if buttonState is 0 turn off the LED
    // turn LED off
    digitalWrite(LEDpin, LOW);

    delay(1); // delay in between reads for stability


    Analog Sensor

    If you have a resistive analog sensor, your sensor changes its resistance and not the voltage. We need to use the resistance change of these sensors to manipulate voltage that goes into the input pins so the Arduino can read what is happening with our sensors.

    Voltage Divider: Resistive Sensors
    You can divide the voltage by using 2 resisters in series.Here is an experiment with two resister with a multumeter.
    The first experiment shows two same size resister (10kohm) dividing the provided voltage (5V) in half. The multimeter is set as V– for reading direct current voltage. The probes are connected to 0V (GND) of the power supply and the middle point where two resisters meet. You can see 2.44 in the multilmeter’s display. (almost 2.5V.. maybe the resister had some range) It divides the 5V in 50/50 ratio.

    In the second experiment, I changed one of the resister to 47kohm. So now the ratio of two resisters are 10/47. So, I should read 5V x 10/(10+47) = 0.877 V in theory. As you can see in multimeter, it is 0.85V it measures. Not bad!

    Now, if you change one of the resister to our resistive textile sensor, it works the same. For example, The felt sensor I tested here has about 8kohm – 100kohm resistance range. You can see how the voltage that gets divided in the middle changes as I manipulate the felt. Now, if you connect the point where multimeter is reading to the Arduino Analog input, we can read how much voltage comes in.

    As the ratio between two resisters changes, the voltage you get in the middle (between the resisters) changes accordingly.

    As the analog input pins are reading the voltage input changes, we need to change the voltage that goes into the analog pins by changing the resistance connected to the analog input pin.

    When you finish connecting your sensor as above, you can upload example Arduino sketch AnalogReadSerial from (File/Examples/Basics/AnalogReadSerial)

    If you like to see the sensor input value in more graphical way, you can also try Graph example sketch.
    This is located (File/Examples/Communication/Graph). You will need Processing for this example.

    Sensor value to Light

    We can now control the light with these analog sensors too. As it has value (0-1023) we can control intensity of the light rather than state of on/off.

    To do this, you can use analogWrite() function, instead of digitalWrite(). With digitalWrite() function, you specify on(HIGH)/off(LOW) state of the pin, while in the analogWirte() you can specify the intensity between 0-255. This is called PWM. You can read more about it from here >>

    Since the input from the sensor is in the range of 0-1023, and analogWrite range is 0-255, you will need to scale the value. To do so, we can use map() function.

    Capacitive sensing

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