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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

    Playing with electronic textiles

    14+15.4.2023 at the Art and Work Education Conferences Tirol “material matters”

    This two-day workshop provides an in-depth introduction to the materials as well as design and didactic possibilities of electronic textiles. Participants will develop object-, body- and space-oriented projects involving textile sensors, circuits and sound, which will serve as examples for later use in schools. The workshop will end with a collective discussion of the experiences and what role electronic textiles can – and should – play in the teaching of technology and design.

    Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi are designers and artists who combine electronics with craft techniques. They develop interactive technologies and objects that emphasize material and process. They have been working together since 2006 and form the art collective KOBAKANT, which develops artistic projects in the field of e-textiles and wearable technology art.


    Freitag 10:00-17:00

    10-11:00 Introductions
    11-13:00 Introduction to e-Textiles/exercises
    13-14:00 Lunch
    14:00-17:00 Group project time

    Samstag 10:00-16:00

    10-11:00 Intro to Arduino code and programming Teensy 4.0
    11-13:00 Group project time
    13-14:00 Lunch
    14-15:00 Playtime/ Presentations
    15-16:00 Discussion
    16:00- Cleaning up

    Introduction slide PDF is here>>


    We make conductive embroidery and conductive felt touch sensitive interface to play synthesizer on computers. These conductive materials act as capacitive sensors to detect the touch, and Teensy microcontroller act as a MIDI USB interface to send interaction information to your computer over USB cable.


    Conductive Threads
    Statex 235/36 dtex 4-ply – Nylon 6.6 filament yarn coated in 99% pure silver
    Kupfer Blank 3981 7×1 fach verseilt, Verseilung: 7×1, Lahnumspinnung: 1-fach
    Conductive Wool
    Bekinox W12/18, 20% stainless steel 80% wool

    More information about various materials >> Meet the Material


    Teensy 4.0

    For this workshop, we use Teensy4.0 from https://www.pjrc.com because they are reasonably priced, and using fast microcontrollers that allows it to act as USB MIDI device or HID (Human Interface Device, like mouse and keyboard). To use Teensy, you will need to use Teensyduino instead of Arduino IDE or add Teensy add-on on your existing Arduino IDE.

    Teensyduino https://www.pjrc.com/teensy/td_download.html

    (Scroll down the page and Use Teensyduino from the link Arduino 1.8.x Software Development, follow the instruction guide for Windows/Mac/Linux)

    When you finish downloading the Teensyduino, move it to your “Application” folder from your “Download” folder. Then double click the icon in the Application to open the software. For newer Mac, it will ask to authorize the security issue. Open “system preference” and go to “Security and privacy” setting to allow opening the software from third party. Once you success opening the Teensyduino first time, you will see a blank new sketch (canvas to write a new program).

    The sensor techinque we are using is called “Capacitive Sensing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitive_sensing). There are few ways to perform Capacitive sensing on Arduino boards, and this time we are using Fast Touch library by Adrian Freed. To install this library, you can go to the following github link and click “<>code” to show drop down menu and choose “download ZIP”. This will download the zip file of this library to your computer. Then go to open your Teensyduino, and navigate the top menu to Sketch/include Library/add .zip library and navigate to choose the .zip file you have just downloaded.
    Go to https://github.com/adrianfreed/FastTouch/ and click “<>code” and “download ZIP” to get the library zip file.

    Then open your Teensyduino, navigate to Sketch/Include Library/Add ZIP library, and choose the zip file you have just downloaded.

    Now if you go to File/Examples you will see the fastTouch listed in the examples. This means you have successfully installed the library.

    For details please see the below documentation from Arduino about how to install libraries. (same for Teensyduino)


    Online Synthesizer

    MIDI(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a protocol that is used for communication between electrical musical instruments. It contains notes between 0-127, velocity 0-127.
    Many software and digital instruments understands MIDI signals. In this workshop we used the below online synthesizer that can also accept MIDI signal.

    Cardboard synth (online synthesizer, only works on Chrome browser)


    and here is how to enable USB MIDI interface on Chrome


    The keys are now programmed to play midi note 60,62,64, 65,67,69,71,72 an octave from C3.

    Teensy pins 5,7,9,11,14,16,18,20 are used for the touch sensors.

    Fabric Breakout board

    You can make a fabric breakout by placing the Teensy on a base fabric (i.e. felt) and stitch down the holes with conductive thread and extend the connection to the edge of the fabric. You can go through the Teensy’s pin holes like sewing down button holes. Make sure to make tight and clean stitches for good connection. It is recommended to make knots at the edge of the fabric so it does not touch other pins/connections by mistake.


    example code used in the workshop is posted here


    For Teensy 4.0, we used teensy40_fastTouch_midi.ino example sketch.
    If you want to change the MIDI notes that it plays, change the note number here

    The MIDI notes are sent at this part of the code. If you want to change the strength of the note, you can change the second argument (99) of “usbMIDI.sendNoteOn(note1, 99, channel);” to another number (0-127).

    You can use touch sensor value to create note number or velocity so how you touch also changes the pitch and velocity of the sound.
    To upload the code, you need to choose correct board, USB type and port from the tools menu.


    There are commercial products that does similar things as we did in the workshop. You may find it easier to work with them in classrooms as they are made to be educational purpose friendly.



    Playtronica especially posts a lot of nice examples, tutorials on how you can connect USB MIDI device with various kind of music softwares on computers and also on iPads.


    They also share information about online MIDI software. We found the cardboard synth that we used in the workshop from this list as well. Perhaps you can find better suiting software for your class.



    Spielen mit elektronischen Textilien

    Dieser zweitägige Workshop gibt eine vertiefte Einführung in die Materialien sowie gestalterischen und didaktischen Möglichkeiten elektronischer Textilien. Die Teilnehmer:innen entwickeln objekt-, körper- und raumorientierte Projekte die textile Sensoren, Schaltkreise und Sound beinhalten, die als beispielhaft für den späteren Einsatz in der Schule dienen sollen.

    Der Workshop endet mit einer kollektiven Diskussion der Erfahrungen und welche Rolle elektronische Textilien im Unterricht im Fach Technik und Design einnehmen können – und sollen.

    Hannah Perner-Wilson und Mika Satomi sind Designerinnen und Künstlerinnen, die Elektronik mit handwerklichen Techniken kombinieren. So werden interaktive Technologien und Objekte entwickelt, die Material und Prozess betonen. Seit 2006 arbeiten sie zusammen und bilden das Kunstkollektiv KOBAKANT, das künstlerische Projekte im Bereich E-Textilien und Wearable Technology Art entwickelt.

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