OF E-TEXTILES AND COOL TOOLS
This week we had the opportunity to host Dr. Kylie Peppler, one of the foremost authorities on E-textiles in our class. Our interaction with her and the knowledge she shared have inspired our class to make practical use of it by way of a mini-project. E textiles have been around for quite a while in spite of its recent spike in popularity but what exactly are E-textiles?
E-textiles have been spurred on by the rise of digital creativity that extends into the physical world , beyond the comfort of computer screens, spawning new forms of creative production that are impacting the educational and other professional fields. E-textiles may thus be defined as fabric artifacts that include embedded computers and other electronics. Examples of E-textiles in mainstream and pop-culture include AT & T’s bio-tracking clothing and Lady Gaga’s smart-hydraulic “Living Dress.” These are examples of where E-textiles have combined fashion and electronics with the aim of creating aesthetically pleasing products and effects by the use of conductive materials. Our class was so inspired by Dr. Kylie Peppler’s visit to do just that, create a card using conductive fabric and thread that lights up once opened. That, however is not the limit of E-textiles, it can even include architecture and home furnishings! E-textile artifacts span a wide range from the wearable workout buddy, a knitted arm band outfitted with a sensor that is designed to detect whether the wearer’s arm is bent or straight, a useful aid to workout sessions that involve push-ups and other upper body exercises to the music improvisation dance costume, designed to transmit the movements of the dancer to a laptop computer for conversion into multimedia.
According to Dr. Peppler, E-textiles employ “coding,” for the more interactive designs. The E-textile world is one in which multiple disciplines, including but not limited to computer science, engineering, and the arts converge. And yes, it does have something to do with education! There are the more sophisticated E-textile construction kits on the market but most educators have to design projects that are directly linked to the standards of the current paradigm. Dr. Peppler even posits that E-textiles have the potential to offer greater transparency into STEM disciplinary content in that unlike most of today’s technology that hides what makes them work, E-textiles makes plain what makes them work.
E-textiles can only gain more steam with the introduction of more appealing designs and products on the market. A developing and yet exciting field of technological application. Really cool! That is not the only cool thing we have been learning about. There is a segment of our class period entitled ‘Cool Tools and Hip Events,’ during which students share a cool technology tool they know about as well as a technology-related event happening in the vicinity. Here are some cool tools we have been fortunate to learn about so far:
Developed at the media lab of MIT, Scratch is free and allows the user to program their own interactive games, stories, and animations. Scratch also allows the user to share their creations with other online users. https://scratch.mit.edu/
Padlet is a platform for creating and sharing digital content. It allows the teacher to do a braod range of things. It has been described as the ultimate educational technology tool. Padlet allows for the creation and sharing of the following: Thinking maps, flow maps, K-W-L charts, embed videos, art, class communication, collaboration, close reading activities, exit slips, music, and documents. https://padlet.com/
Tiltbrush is a painting tool that “lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality.” A great tool for artists. https://www.tiltbrush.com/
Twiddla is an online collaboration, meeting, and digital sharing tool. All you need to work with twiddla is an internet connection and a browser. http://www.twiddla.com/home.aspx
Until next time, enjoy the cool stuff!