A team at Studio NMinusOne at the University of Toronto’s RAD (Responsive Architecture at Daniels) developed an amazing smart textile object, the IM Blanky a blanket that knows its state in time and position in space.
Being able to know ones position in time and space represents one of the most primitive forms of cognition, the awareness of one’s own body. The IM Blanky comes very close to being aware of its ‘self’, making it a truly smart textile.
Using traditional embroidery techniques and figurative designs typical for embroidery like animal, floral or other natural motives, the creators show a deep understanding to integrate ‘naturally’ electronics into textiles, making the electronic components and function a part of the design and not an add-on. A very thoughtful design concept I always appreciate.
At the center of the sensory blanket ability is a tilt sensor made in the shape of a flower of the overall floral design using the flower trunks to connect the flower sensors with conductive thread to form the cognitive network.
Measuring 7’7” x 4’2” the IM Blanky contains 104 tilt sensors arranged into clusters. Each flower tilt sensor consists of 6 conductive petals linked by resistors and a conductive tassel in the center. Each petal reports a different resistance value, giving the N,S,W,E orientation in space and time.
The flower sensors are arranged into 14 clusters and two half clusters linked together to form a network, each relaying the directional position of the tilt sensor to a LilyPad processor unit stitched into the backside of the blanket.
Mapping the position data received by the tilt sensors, the software running on the LilyPad reconstructs a slope for each sensor based on the position of that cell and its immediate neighbors, generating essentially a surface of peaks and valleys in real time.
A pretty smart piece of textile, highly creative and innovative design of this network representing a artificial cognitive awareness system in textile form. Impressive the relatively simplistic materials involved to form the sensor.
Team members Rodolphe el-Khoury, Christos Marcopoulos, Carol Moukheiber, with Valentina Mele, Sebastian Savone, Yie Ping See, Jonah Ross Marrs, Samar Sabie and Dina Sabie, created an amazing smart textile object that opens the inspirational doors to further experimentation and to explore possible usage of self-aware textiles for commercial applications.