Sound and Motion Reactivity for Wearables

x-posted summary from


A Dance of Sound, Light and Motion

At SparkFun, I wanted a smarter jacket: a color changing jacket that would react to my surroundings. The concept seemed simple enough. Using sound and motion sensing as an interface I’m able to change colors to merge with the environment. This elevates the need for buttons or switches that might otherwise take our user out of the present moment.

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The finished product. (photo by evan miller)

There are a number of challenges, mainly comfort and control. I find one of the keys to comfort in wearing a lit up garment is having symbiosis with the surrounding environment. However, I needed to distinguish between the high energy atmosphere of a frenetic art opening and otherwise subdued activities like sharing a meal or waiting in line. We often don’t take into account how bright our garments may be to in the eyes of others, and the aim of this project was to tackle this problem. One way to accomplish this synergy with one’s environment is to listen before emoting, or, this this case, sense before lighting too brightly or deploying patterns too quickly.

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A long exposure photo displaying how sounds can be viewed across various frequencies.

I used an accelerometer and microphone to sense the environment and wearers energy level. Rapid changes in acceleration and specifically rotations of the wearer are interpreted as being in an environment where lighting may be a bit brighter and patterns cycle faster.

I used a microphone to sense the ranges and volume of various frequencies. Fairly normal frequencies of human voices and minimal volumes would be interpreted to give a fairly consistent color without much movement. If there were low frequencies and louder volumes, the design assumes music is being played and introduces more colors.

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With little motion or sound, the colored spine appears to reflect the given color rather than emit. (photo by @risknc)

A specific color pallet was chosen to also merge the wearer into their surrounding. A pinkish mid range is in harmony with the rest of the design to blend in during times of inactivity while blues and turquoises become present during repeated audio with more low end. These blues are in direct contrast to the rest of the design and thereby become quite apparent.

Building it Out

GOTO : LEARN.SPARKFUN.COM for the full tutorial on the electronics used and why

Many, many special thanks to my SparkFun family for the amazing learning opportunity and hosting me for the all too short residency.

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Pure Data Patching Circle This Sunday 9/21

This Sunday from 3-8 PM, we will be having a Pure Data patching circle.

Pure Data is a visual “patching” programming language that is used by musicians, visual artists, and others to create programs without writing any code.

A patching circle is an informal gathering of anyone who is interested in patching languages (Pure Data, Max/MSP/Jitter, etc.).  Beginners and experienced patchers are welcome.  Open to everyone – work on personal or professional projects, school work, or just patch quietly to yourself, in a room full of other people patching patches and helping other people patch.

We will be presenting the new features of Pd 0.46, and New Blankets Artist-In-Transit Katja Vetter will be showing her Pd patches Pico//Jockey and Instant Decomposer on the Raspberry Pi. We will also be showing Pd (Vanilla and Extended) running on the new Raspberry Pi B+.

Instructables / Dremel July Build Night

On July 6th, Crashspace hosted a Dremel July Build Night.  Much fun was had by all while experimenting with Dremel 4000 rotary tools and oscillating Multi-Maxes.  There were carvings on recycled wood and a rock; there was metal cutting (and fun sparks!); one person used a sanding attachment to smooth irregularities on a piece originally made on a CNC router.


See more photos from the Dremel July Build Night.

In response to the event, Barb created two featured instructables using the tools we were sent – Wooden Rag Doll and Upcycled Sofa Foot Box:

My wooden rag doll bot
Sofa Foot Box

CNC update

Thank you everyone, we successfully raised 150% of our funding goal! As previous mentioned, this means we’re getting the 4th-axis attachment and industrial spindle for the ShopBot Desktop. Since the campaign closed, we’ve been busy getting all the equipment and components.

The ShopBot Desktop and parts arrived this last week, and has been assembled at Crashspace:

In order to support the ShopBot Desktop, and hold the dust-collection system and odds and ends, we built a wooden frame and table-top:


We’re still working on the physical object perks, and getting those out to people, we appreciate your patience. All class coupons should have gone out, if you believe you should have received one and did not, please let us know via indiegogo, or on the crashspace discussion-list.

Class schedules will be up as soon as possible, we will update when those are available for reservation.

Thank you so much for your support and help.

CRASH Space at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: NextGen Art+Tech Family Sundays

Crashspace members Carlyn Maw, Michelle Leonhart, and Levi Simons are leading a multi-week family-friendly workshop at LACMA this August as a part of LACMA’s Andell Art+Technology Family Sundays program. Families are welcome to come explore the intersection of art and technology by learning how to build DoodleBots: fun, creative robots that produce their own unique works of art.


The workshop is free, and is open from 12:30p-3:30p on Sundays, Aug 3, 10th, and 17th at LACMA. Find us in the Director’s Garden, on the south-east side of the museum, near the Spaulding entrance. (Look to the right of the long staircase, to the direct east of Urban Light. (If you see the Alexander Calder fountain, you’re going the right way.)

Want to see pictures from the Aug 3rd workshop? Click here!