November 2, 2014

Uh, What are You? I'm a Piano! Duh. An Electric Piano...

The DreamForce Expo left me inspired after observing new things being done with the Internet of Everything. I am overly anxious to see and realize more of a #TrulyTangibleWeb;  which eliminate as many screens, and unsustainable materials as possible to create useful things that are natural extensions of ourselves as human beings.

As an attempt to bring this to fruition,  I built special gloves to do just that while celebrating the weekend of Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. What better time to experiment with electric toys and wearables? Halloween is a great time to get dressed up in something clever, and I absolutely love the way the Latino cultures celebrate the loss of their loved ones with celebrations and music.


"We each make a kite of life and fly it as we will"
An old Spanish saying with basically means, stop caring what other people think, and go out to create whatever it is you would like to use. So "bear" with me, this isn't a kite, but it is a rough prototype of my musical gloves. I wanted to make something as quickly as possible, so even though this looks a little wiry this is actually quite simple. I quickly put two ready-to-go mini computer kits together - the smallest most effective materials I could find.


These mini computers can easily be hidden under clothing or placed in large pockets. 

On the left is a Makey Makey board that can be run on Arduino, created by a toy company for kids to familiarize themselves with computers and gain early programming skills. 

On the right is a Raspberry Pi - a very small computer that can handle big things!


In order to make the music hands-free, I had to find a piece of metal that would constantly touch my skin in order to free up both hands. Our bodies and skin are considered 'grounds', meaning that we can let electrons pass through our body and into earth (or in this case the ground on another circuit board), resulting in neutralizing a charged object.

After a few ideas, I ended up using my metal teddy bear ring (above) because its so cute, and also easy to wear and snap an alligator clip onto.

After setting up the Raspberry Pi (a little tricky in itself at first), I plugged in the other board, connected it to a keyboard program via wifi, and plugged an audio cable into a mini speaker. (Note this is not the final picture, but I wanted to show the under-layers of the board to give a better understanding.)


I couldn't find alligator clips that were long enough to grow up my sleeve and hide down the back of my dress, so I added these little extension wires with metal exposed at both ends. These are the "fingers" so to speak.


These cords then move up the length of the glove. Here is a little demo of the prototype and my dress before tucking the cords in the back.


The portability aspect still needs some tinkering, this is really rough and early...but it works! And I absolutely can wait to flush out the details. The real purpose of creating this was to demonstrate a wearable with a natural integration into an everyday wardrobe, showcasing how we can use ourselves as conductors rather than relying on some cheap plastic gadgetry.

After wrapping up my mini project, it was off to downtown to celebrate and see how other folks in the area dressed up for these two holidays.


The place to be apparently, was Kells - a packed out Irish pub that was a little too loud to play piano at, but just as fun all the same. (Me being more goofy than serious, finally.)


Here is some local streetstyle, that is, Halloween-style that rocked the night:


These shoes with a string of LEDs...




 The sushi totally lit up.



 Stay Puffed photobomb...


Ok party is over. No this is not a Halloween costume, bar hit maximum capacity and an alarm went off. This didn't mean the party stopped however...just that the line outside got a little longer.


Big thanks to the San Francisco Fire Department for keeping us safe :)


Hope everyone had a great weekend. Let me know if you decide to get one of those mini computers and make some cool stuff of your own!

XO Julia

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