This was an exercise in creating a wearable prototype design in a quick way to see if the concept would work. The design was to make simple gloves (yup, no fingers) that would light up when there was a clapping motion. I wondered, how can we prototype quickly when designing wearables? I’ve worked with colleagues who were deaf and was shown how to clap visually through shaking hands. This lead me to think about creating another visual way to clap that was fun and everyone would enjoy.

This post is for information about the concept. I’m thinking of doing an instructable for it in the future with a step by step easy to follow guide. Please do let me know if you’d like to see this!

The completed ‘glove’ lights up only when clapping.

Firstly, I had to figure out what the motion or movement would be. If we can plan something with its simplest parts this would be a good start. Do you really need a microcontroller to make the circuit work? Do you need components to purchase or can we make them ourselves? How can we get interaction in a prototype with as little effort or parts as possible?

The components needed for this project:

  • Felt or other strong material
  • power source, I’m using a Coin Cell battery
  • conductive thread & sewing needle
  • ‘edison filament’ an LED filament string with small LEDs that will light up, choose a 3V one
  • Conductive nylon fabric tape

You can choose from a few different colours of these LED filaments, I chose blue for this project as I think it’s stunning. You can buy them in different lengths too, so I went with one that would wrap around part of a glove.

filament with many LEDs inside

First, with your hand on a piece of felt, measure out your hand size.

I drew around my hand with chalk and went just past the knuckles to just below the wrist. Don’t forget you’ll need some extra space for the seam. Also, the wrist part will need to be wider so you can put your whole hand through.

Once this has been mapped out – the fun begins!

Decide on how you want the conductive circuit to connect. For me, it was the clapping motion. So – all I want to do is complete the circuit.

The filament has a tiny hole on the positive side, that connects to the positive side of your battery.

Using the conductive tape I created one half of the circuit on one of the glove parts, and then the other half of the circuit to ‘close’ the circuit on the other glove. You’ll use your battery to be connected to one of the sides and this will only close when the two glove pieces touch.

When these two halfs meet through clapping, it closes the circuit – lighting up the filament.

The purpose of this prototype was to create a wearable technology piece really quickly with minimal components and tools. This was created with low cost items, and it only required some brief sewing to form the glove shape, and then sewing the ends of the filament leds to secure them to the conductive tape. Even this could have all been done with staples for a super quick prototype.

The purpose of a prototype can be a proof of concept piece which this was. So have fun when you are making and remember it doesn’t always need to be perfect!