The LilyPad Arduino: Using Computational Textiles to InvestigateEngagement, Aesthetics, and Diversity in Computer Science Education

By Amy Pickup    30 Mar 2012

Human Computer Interaction studies are becoming increasingly important as technology steadily penetrates our daily lives. We tend to think of technology in terms of either “making tasks easier and faster” or as a “source of entertainment or distraction.” While this may “dictate specific themes for the study of interaction,” technology is “expanding and democratizing the range of human expression and creativity.”

There are quite a few different tech kits out there, but many are focused purely on functionality. The LilyPad went through a few different prototypes, and changed as it’s creators re-evaluated the importance of functionality in relation to aesthetics. It is important to understand the importance of fashion and how it impacts both the design and use of the LilyPad. The Arduino IDE was also considered a vital part of the kit to leverage the “vibrant and growing community of Arduino users.”

Six workshops were implemented to study the adoption of the LilyPad. Circuits, coding and sewing are the three main activities that should be covered. Their week-long, fifteen-hour camp went like this:

  1. Sewing Basic Circuits
  2. Electrical Resistance and Multimeter training
  3. Basic Programming with the LilyPad
  4. Experimentation
  5. Demonstration

The use of alligator clips to prototype designs was encouraged There was a voluntary study students could participate in Not many were interested in programming, sewing was difficult They aim to “inspire independence, delight, and obsession”

Constructionism Etextiles provide “cutting edge technology that kids can personalize and integrate into their daily lives” and can help define their identity We should take advantage of “social structures and patterns of interest that already exist” (ie. fashion, Arduino subculture, school activities)