Wearable computing and e-textiles has a lot of potential as an educational computing topic. They allow students to exercise their creativity and imagination while learning about concepts in computing and technology. However, there are still numerous difficulties involved in deploying existing technology in an educational environment. We present the TeeBoard, a construction platform for e-textiles and wearable computing that is designed to be robust, reliable, easy to construct and to program. It has also passed initial tests in a practical workshop for high school students.
Figure 1. TeeBoard Conductive Strip Diagram Front (left) and Back (right). Each line represents a conductive strip. The red line and the adjacent black one are reserved as bus strips that provide the electronic components with the power and ground supply. Each dot represents a connective snap button.
Figure 2. Gripper-style snap buttons are used for our connective interface. (Left) The stud and socket closure units and the corresponding open prong ring attaching units. (Right) The snap buttons are secured directly to the conductive fabric to create a robust and reliable connection. The ironed-on-conductive strips can be seen through the lining material, which aids in preventing accidental short circuits.
Figure 3. The front side of the finished TeeBoard, with a demonstration circuit demonstrating the ability to accommodate circuits on both sides of the garment. The inside of the TeeBoard (right) has attached the electronic components, including the microcontroller board in the center “socket”, and a number of connecting wires. The outside of the TeeBoard has attached a light sensor on the right shoulder (circled) and six LEDs (wrapped in colored gauze to simulate flower decorations).
Figure 4. The Back of the finished TeeBoard: Right side (left) and inside (right).
Figure 5. Student project presentations from our wearable computing workshop. (Left) Two boys present their project to the class: light sensors at the front of the shirt that control lights at the back. (Right) A girl presents the project from her group: a t-shirt with a smiley “face” that “blushes” when the “forehead” is patted.