Thinkerbelle–A Fiber Optic Dress With Thoughts #WearableWednesday


I’ve definitely been following Rain Ashford’s blog as she twists and turns through her PHD exploring EEG affected wearables. You may recall my last post about her EEG LED Necklace. Now she is spreading out with a fiber optic dress humorously named Thinkerbelle to show mood in social situations. In fact, her thesis is really exploring the dynamics of wearables as a non-verbal source of communication. Her blog gives a preview of the dress, and I know I can’t wait to see how she ties this into the data she has been collecting. Her dress, like the LED necklace, uses the NeuroSky Mindwave Mobile EEG Headset to collect brain info.


The light colors on the dress appear as fine fireworks thanks to the fiber optic fabric in the top layer of the dress. Using Bluetooth, the NeuroSky headset data is transmitted to the dress, where the Adafruit Trinket Pro microcontroller controls the illumination of the connected LEDs. Red means there is attention, while green indicates relaxation. So, you can actually see the dress turn color as you learn to quiet your mind. I like the way Rain made the strips of fabric movable, so a wearer can customize the look of the dress.


One of the interesting features about this dress is that the wearer can record the patterns for the dress and replay them later. Why would someone want to do that? Think of this much like a lie detector test. Sometimes you want people to know how you feel, and other times you would rather keep your thoughts to yourself. So, in this case if you want to appear calm even though you are really agitated, you can just have the dress display a previous calm time period. Rain has put a lot of thought into her project, and she is calling her field “emotive wearables”.

The motivation for creating the dress was for engagement in social situations in which the wearer might find themselves in a noisy or crowded area, where it is not possible to hear others and communicate easily–where forms of non-verbal communication may be useful. The dress broadcasts the meditation and attention data of the wearer for observers to make their own interpretations. It is up to the wearer if they want to divulge information regarding the physiological source of the data being visualized.

Rain’s project is quite advanced, but creating clothing that can react to your environment is actually quite doable using a FLORA stitchable microcontroller. Check out our Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA book to learn all the basics, including conductive thread, FLORA and it’s sensors, as well as a variety of cool projects. You can do this!

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Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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1 Comment

  1. Heather Massey

    incredible! imagine emotive wearables, you might even be able to think at painting of the garment in multiple light waves and colour patterns, a visual poem on your clothing, seen not heard!

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