Wearables: Project 1-Creative data tracking

For our first creative project, we are making a wearable device that deals with data tracking. Because this project is very similar to our low-tech wearable assignment, I decide to extend that idea and see if I can take it to the next level.

A couple of weeks ago, I started sketching when I decided to pursue my idea of collecting and presenting the level of stress as a type of data.

My original idea was to make the device fit on the fingers, and then have it connected to a board attached to a bracelet. I got some feedback from other folks in my class and I eventually decided to incorporate it into one device that sits on the wrist.

I was also confused about how I should visualize/present this data and what interventions can be made using the device. After going down different routes, I decided to stick with the theme of mindfulness, and try to use Neopixels to create an effect that would assist the user to breathe and pause during stressful moments.

So at this point, my idea is pretty straightforward. I need to figure out how I can use a force-sensitive resistor(FSR) to control the Neopixels on the Adafruit Circuitplayground Express board (long name, I know).

To give myself a concrete timeline to work with, I divided the project into two parts: code and building the prototype. I began with testing out the FSR and seeing what kind of data I am receiving from the sensor. I found out that the numbers I can get from the sensor range from 0 to 1023, and when I press the sensor, the number gets lower.

So I set up a counter and asked the program to log the data to the variable every time it receives a number lower than 10 (line 24). I know that when I am stressed or thinking too much about something, I would continuously pick on something. So I set up an if statement that will trigger the Neopixels when the sensor is being touched many times.

Now, here comes the hard part. I thought this would be a relatively easy process, but I somehow spent hours trying to understand how I could make the Neopixels “breathe”. At first, I tried with a simple for loop, which of course only worked for increasing the brightness. I also tried adding another loop and other weird methods, but none of them worked. Thankfully, I reached out to my professors and friends and got some really useful examples. Lily sent me an example using a sin function to control the brightness of the pixels, and it worked for my program! I screamed when I saw the lights working as I imagined.

After some tweaking and adjusting, I finalized the code and transferred my device to a battery pack. I didn't like how messy the wires looked, so I also simplified the wiring by completely destroying two Dupont wires and using conductive tape to connect them with the board.

After finishing the big part of the project, I started working on creating an enclosure for the device. Since it’s going to fit on the wrist like a bracelet, I want to use comfortable fabrics, and thankfully, I have a lot of t-shirts that don’t fit anymore.

So with some limited sewing knowledge that I learned from watching Youtube and stress eating, I decide to make a tube that will wrap the board & battery pack inside. I measured the width of my device and cut out a strip of fabric, then I glued them right sides together. After waiting for the glue to dry out, I flipped the tube inside out to hide the “seam”. Lastly, I put the device inside the tube before trimming and sealing both sides off.

I found some re-attachable command strips around the house and I used them to close off the bracelet. I also made a small slit on the top of the fabric to let the sensor poke through, and I added some foam to the sensor to make it more “squishable”.

Here’s a short demo of me using the device:

Let me know your thoughts and comments, thanks!

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