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Soft Sensors

A student crafts literally warmer and fuzzier computer interfaces

by Josh Rubin in Tech on 31 May 2010

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Lara Grant just graduated from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU where she literally crafted out her own niche in "wearable technology."

"It's not a real major, just my interest," the 28-year-old Brooklyn resident explains.

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Her thesis, Soft Sensors, fuses the digital world with physical experience by creating computer controls out of felt. With so much anxiety about an increasingly digital existence, her project refreshingly points out the potential for truly warm and fuzzy interfaces. Using soft circuitry, Grant made an array of felt housings that—when stretched, squeezed, prodded or poked—change the electronic resistance which feeds into a computer.

Possible applications are varied and aren't limited to just one field—ideas include video game controllers and reactive costumes triggered by a the movements of the wearer (modeled here by Lindsey Marcelle Case).

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"There is a lot more exploration to do and these techniques from this project can be used in many different arenas," she says.

Grant, who has six years experience as a fashion and textile designer, sees Soft Sensors as only the beginning for what could be a new field of digital interfaces.

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"The four felt sensors in this project is not the end to the means either, they are simply the body I found suitable as a first introduction to the techniques used to create them with."

Check out videos of some examples on Vimeo and track developments on her blog.

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