Muslin is a material which is nice to touch and feels warms when held on to. How would muslin respond to being touched? This experimental e-textile project explores the feeling of textiles responding to being interacted with.
I wanted to create a piece which would respond to my touch. I love muslin and the way it feels. It's soft, yet has a rough tactile quality which makes it nice and warm to hold. I wonder what muslin feels like when it is touched. Does it like being held? Does it be held firmly or caressed softly?
In an attempt to answer this question, I created a piece made of muslin which actively responds to being interacted with.
The piece is split into individual layers–sensor, reactor, and the cover.
The sensor is a 6x6 pressure sensitive sensor, which uses a grid of copper thread and velostat to work. Heavily inspired (read: copied) from Kobakant, it can detect where pressure is applied on a 2D X-Y area. The velostat can help detect the intensity of pressure as well. With a 6x6 sensor, it has 36 individual 'sensors'.
I wanted to hand sew everything as it felt like the right thing to do with muslin. The material feels analogue and machine sewing wouldn't feel appropriate. However, I did want to sew well, which meant good spacing, and straight lines. The laser etched guides allowed me to do just that. I cut and etched three pieces of muslin, 2 for the sensor, and 1 for the SMD LEDs.
By detecting pressure applied to sensor, and how many points are being pressed, I can somewhat determine the way the piece is being touched or interacted with. If only a few points are being touched with lots of pressure, the piece is being poked. If many points are being touched softly, then I can determine that my palm is on the surface. With 36 individual sensor points, the sensor is of a fairly high fidelity and does a good job of determining the kind of touch being applied.
Visualisation how the piece detects touches
Laser etch at the center of the sensor
I didn't want the piece to be tight or tense, so I used four cross stitches to attach the outer layers to the inner sandwich. It also kept the micro-controller and coin cell battery holder easily accessible incase I needed to make some changes.
Cross-stitched the outer layers
Easy to replace coin cell battery
Can be plugged in to change software or make plug in additional hardware