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Faraday Dress

The Difference Between Fashion Technology, Wearable Tech, and E-Textiles

There are a lot of terms being bandied around in relation to electronics that you can wear and attach to textiles.

I found myself a bit confused between the different terms as they get used interchangeably. Out of frustration, I did some digging into how experts are defining these different terms. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Here's the breakdown about soft circuits, e-sewing, e-textiles, fashion tech, and wearable tech:​


Here's the breakdown about soft circuits, e-sewing, e-textiles, fashion tech, and wearable tech:​


Soft Circuits

Soft circuits refers to using flexible materials like conductive thread and fabric to create circuits and sensors – a popular technique for wearable technology. Soft circuits are the junction of crafting and electronics communities.

The increasing availability of raw conductive materials such as inks, threads, and textiles opens a new world of possibilities to experiment with, to better help you craft electronics into fabric. Circuits can now be hand- or machine-sewn, woven, embroidered, inked, or knit; they can be lightweight, flexible, and even three-dimensional. But don’t throw your etchant solution and copper boards away quite yet, as it is diffi cult and time-consuming to sew complex circuitry by hand. For most projects, you will want to combine traditional printed circuit boards (PCBs) with soft circuits, controls, and switches.


E-sewing (Electronic Sewing)

It’s just how it sounds. This term doesn’t seem to be used a whole lot except in relation to the Lilypad set of sewable products. That’s OK with me because Leah Buechley and others at the MIT Media Lab revolutionized pairing textiles and electronics. At KitHub we had to learn how to sew with conductive thread when we did some sewable projects. It’s a bit tricky because the thread frays easily but once you get going it’s similar to sewing with cotton thread, except you can short circuit!


E-textiles (Electronic Textiles)

E-textiles are fabrics with embedded electronics, including sensors, lights, motors, and small computers. Electronic textiles are distinct from wearable computing because emphasis is placed on the seamless integration of textiles with electronic elements like micro-controllers, sensors, and actuators. Furthermore, e-textiles need not be wearable.


Fashion Technology

This term’s definition seems to be different depending on who you talk to. In startup-tech-land this generally means “utilizing technology to sell or socialize clothing, accessories and beauty products.”

A couple of years ago I visited the Burberry flag store in London and experienced their virtual dressing room. Now many retailers are taking the lead and offering the opportunity to try on clothes without removing any of your own.

“Luxury retailers have been early adopters of new technology and are more advanced in the field than high street retailers, with greater focus on enhancing the in-store experience with video and microchips in clothing for shoppers to interact with. Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry who oversaw its digital revolution, was subsequently poached by Apple to help run their stores and develop new products.”

And yet, my friend Anouk Wipprecht, one of the most amazing fashion+tech designers in the world, defines it as “emerging field of “fashion-tech”; a rare combination of fashion design combined with engineering, science and interaction/user experience design.”


Wearable Technology/ Computing

Wearable Tech is clothing and accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. The designs often incorporate practical functions and features, but may also have a purely critical or aesthetic agenda.

 Source: Wikipedia

Most simply, I define wearable tech as enabling interactivity around the body. The Apple Watch is an elegant, state-of-the-art piece of interactive technology and there is a massive market for this. But it exists in the domain of taking a smartphone and attaching it to our body. There are whole new unexplored categories of wearables to come.”


Resources

Aneta Genova: "Multiple LED Soft Circuit Tutorial"

Becky Stern, Adafruit: “Conductive Thread – 10 Tips.”

Betakit: "Intel's Fashion-First Approach To Wearable"

CNN: "Technology Gets a Makeover as Fashion Goes Futuristic"

Conductive Thread: “Soft Electronics Tutorial.”

Instructables: "Beginning Soft Circuits" gives you the complete step-by-step instructions for 19 different projects to light up your clothes. Learn to make your own sparkling tutu, a turn signal bike jacket, light up leggings and more!

Kent State University "Fashion Tech Hackathon"

Refinery 29: "This is the future of fashion technology"

Textile World: "E-Textiles For Wearability: Review On Electrical And Mechanical Properties"



Operation Game

How to Make Your Own Operation Game

You’ve probably played Operation, the game where you’re a doctor armed with a pair of tweezers, trying to fix a patient with a big red nose.

The goal of the game is to remove things like bones out of small openings without touching the edge of the opening. Like most things, it’s much more fun when you make your own!

Using an LED, a buzzer and other materials you can make your own operation game to play with your friends and family. This is a great way to learn about parallel circuits. In a parallel circuit, each component has its own branch from the power source. If one piece breaks, the other one keeps on working. For this game, there are two branches: one for the buzzer, one for the LED.

Note! The electronic parts for the Operation Game come in our STEAM Programs.


Operation Game

Grab these materials and make your own version of Operation:


Time: 45 mins
Ages: 6+

Materials and Tools:

  • 1 battery holder
  • 1 3V buzzer
  • 1 LED
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2 AA batteries
  • 2 alligator clip cables
  • Tweezers
  • 1 box (a gift box, cereal box, or shoe box lid is good!)
  • Small things to pick up (gummy bears, Play-Doh balls, Tic-Tacs, etc.)
  • Scissors *ask a parent!*
  • Stuff to draw with (colored pencils, crayons, etc.)
  • Tape
  • Robot template (optional)

Download our step-by-step instructions to make your game.

Share your creations using #kithub on your favorite social media apps.


Audrey 5th grader

Fifth grade girl kickstarts aerial photo rig for her science fair

I was inspired after reading this article about how a fifth grade girl from Mississippi, Audrey Hale, created an aerial photo rig for her science fair. After seeing the balloon imaging satellite project in her mom’s Make Magazine, Audrey decided that she wanted to make it. Her mom told her the materials weren’t in their budget so Audrey turned to Kickstarter to make her project a reality! Audrey’s project was successfully funded with 32 backers pledging $420 (her goal was $150). We really admire Audrey’s persistence and can’t wait until her ebook with tips and resources for other kids is released.

Audrey 5th graderballoon cam