IllumiWear: A Fiber-Optic eTextile for MultiMedia Interactions

Davis, Josh Urban

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

We present IllumiWear, a novel eTextile prototype that uses fiber optics as interactive input and visual output. Fiber optic cables are separated into bundles and then woven like a basket into a bendable glowing fabric. By equipping light emitting diodes to one side of these bundles and photodiode light intensity sensors to the other, loss of light intensity can be measured when the fabric is bent. The sensing technique of IllumiWear is not only able to discriminate between discreet touch, slight bends, and harsh bends, but also recover the location of deformation. In this way, our computational fabric prototype uses its intrinsic means of visual output (light) as a tool for interactive input. We provide design and implementation details for our prototype as well as a technical evaluation of its effectiveness and limitations as an interactive computational textile. In addition, we examine the potential of this prototype’s interactive capabilities by extending our eTextile to create a tangible user interface for audio and visual manipulation.