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November 11, 2015 AT 12:00 pm

NeoPixel Tap Shoes #WearableWednesday

One of my students at SVA’s Products of Design grad program, Jenna Witzleben, writes:

For my innovative switch project, I wanted to continue with my illuminated dancewear theme. I decided to utilize the existing conductive surfaces on the bottom of tap shoes for my switch.

This concept uses each of the plates (front and back on each shoe) to close a switch with a conductive ground surface. It reads each of those switches separately, and uses the 16 possible combinations to control the LED color/effect.

Construction was relatively straightforward. I unscrewed the metal plates on the shoes and pinched a wire underneath them to form one side of the switches. I then sewed a sheet of conductive fabric to put on the floor for the other side of the switch. I used Adafruit NeoPixels RGB 60/m LED strip cut down to size for my illuminated shoe straps.

What is most exciting for me about this project is the number of possibilities for future iterations. This round I chose to focus on changing colors for each foot position. However there are many potential variations, just from changing the code. These include color based on combinations or patterns of foot motion and educational tools that change color based on “correctness” of a step. Further, more work could be done to consolidate the wiring and electronics to eventually make this a wireless product.

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