That’s some magical yarn: textile control mechanisms run devices

Forget sockets and electricity, all you need to operate your devices is some conductive yarn
That’s some magical yarn: textile control mechanisms run devices

First, there were smartphones, then came the smartwatches and now, we’re looking at smart yarn. If you’re wondering how “smart” yarn can really get, well, it’s pretty intelligent considering it makes devices you use on a daily basis function.

This new project from Royal College of Art student, Yen Chen Chang, has gained a lot of traction for its new way of interacting with everyday devices. You can now look beyond sockets, electricity, buttons and switches to work mechanisms.  

All you need is some knitted conductive yarn made from 80 per cent polyester and 20 per cent stainless steel (the same composition as material used for smartphone gloves) and voila! when you manipulate the textile, it controls the devices.

Now, it’s not magic that Chang’s creating; if you’re really curious how it works, read on. 

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There's science involved...

That’s some magical yarn: textile control mechanisms run devices

The overlap of the fibers cause the conductivity of the material to change and this is then calculated by an Arduino (an open-source electronics prototyping platform), which communicates with the device.

Here’s some projects he’s created – the Squeezy Juicer works only when you squash a huge knit ball between two people; the Touch of Breeze is a fan that works when you caress a knitted plot of carpet; and the Tension Lamp utilises a weaved yarn rope to dim light (check them out on the video here).  

Chang claims the main purpose of his experiment isn’t to revolutionise existing technology, but rather investigating how changing materials can influence how we interact with devices.

“When you integrate different sensing technology into today’s electronics, you can make something look totally different,” he says. 

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[Source and images: Wired