Textile Interfaces


The Textile interface Swatchbook, developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a platform that allows fashion, interior, and textile designers alike to explore the intersection of technology and textiles in a user-friendly manner. It is comprised of conductive-based textile swatches, a notebook with an embedded micro-controller that enables swatch/laptop communication (or, in theory, communication with any electronic device), and a graphical user interface that demonstrates how soft circuits can interface with existing electronic devices.

Using non-traditional conductive materials, such as metallic thread, fabric, and/or Velcro, the Swatchbook allows you to experiment by making novel GUI-like textile input systems for controlling mobile devices. Those interested in wearable technology can benefit from this textile interface tool as it permits for highly customizable designs while encouraging individuals to create their own interfaces and interaction techniques that can then be incorporated into clothing.

Hardware

 

The Textile interface Swatchbook hardware consists of two circuit board designs: a swatch board which is sewn to the fabric swatches, and a spine board which is built into the spine of the swatchbook. The swatch boards each plug in to the spine board. This modular design allows for all of the logic to lie on the spine board, which needed to be built only once, while all of the fabric interfacing can be tested on a replaceable swatch board.
 
The spine board houses an Atmel Atmega168 microcontroller, and an FTDI USB-RS232 allows the Atmel’s RS-232 interface to function as a USB serial interface. It also contains a 64-pin right-angle card-edge connector, allowing our swatch boards to plug directly into the spine board without any additional parts on that board.
We built the system with three main methods of sensing in mind: analog sensing of resistance, capacitive touch sensing, and a hybrid resistive-capacitive touch sensing.