Your Next Wearable May Have a Snake UI #WearableWednesday


MIT is at it again with an interesting demonstration of LineFORM, a UI that could morph your wearable, give you an instant drawing template or even unwrap itself from your arm. Found on FastCompany, this cool device combines actuators you typically find in robotics with a soft fabric that you might find in a baby’s crib. Inventors from MIT’s Tangible Media Group include Ken Nakagaki, Sean Follmer and Hiroshi Ishii, and the concept is really a smart cable. 

Imagine a cable attached to your computer that can bend itself into a phone-like handset when you get a Skype call. Or coil around a lightbulb and power it when you need some light. Or a cable you plug into your smartphone that then oscillates to represent data shooting back and forth. Or even a robot snake that wraps around your arm, tensing at points to help you build muscles.

The movement of this bot reminds me of the coiling arms of Dr. Octopus from Spiderman. Although those arms seem creepy, they actually are quite flexible and strong. The thought leads me to other uses for LineFORM like a harness for aircraft chairs or amusement park rides, a chin strap for helmets, a tool for hard-to-reach areas like elbow pipes or even a smart gripper for cranes. On the fashion side, with lighter weight construction this could become a scarf, adjustable bra or multiple choice sandal. Like the flexible “Cat’s Cradle” puzzle it was designed after, this bot could lead to some pretty flexible interfaces, but really the intention is to be a UI display.

“These aren’t autonomous agents, like R2-D2 or C-3P0,” Nakagaki says. “They’re just a tool to manipulate information without agency” like any other display.

Will this become the go-to for people facing physical challenges, able to shapeshift to the form needed? I hope so. I think the team at MIT has created something that computer designers will be seeking in the near future. Let’s face it, things that move are interesting. If you are curious about moving parts but have never done a mechanical project, you might want to check out our Really Simple Animatronic Tail project. It’s a great intro to mechanical engineering and fun for costumes.


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!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.