Friday, July 4, 2014

Mobile Computing: Tetris Shirt And Other Wearables

You've heard of mobile gaming and wearable computing. Well here's a twist on those terms -- a mobile game that someone is wearing.

It was recently the 30th anniversary of the classic video game Tetris. Tetris was extremely popular and has an addictive tune that will get stuck in your head, especially if you spent hours in your formative years playing the game. Here's how Wikipedia describes Tetris' popularity:
"The game (or one of its many variants) is available for nearly every video game console and computer operating system, as well as on devices such as graphing calculators, mobile phones, portable media players, PDAs, Network music players and even as an Easter egg on non-media products like oscilloscopes. It has even inspired Tetris serving dishes and been played on the sides of various
buildings...Electronic Gaming Monthly's 100th issue had Tetris in first place as
"Greatest Game of All Time"...In January 2010, it was announced that Tetris had
sold more than 170 million copies, approximately 70 million physical copies and over 100 million copies for cell phones, making it the highest paid-downloaded game of all time
One fan of Tetris, Marc Kerger from Luxembourg, decided that Tetris deserved to be playable on his clothing. So he hacked a shirt with readily available components from the DIY world of microcontrollers (MCUs), and he now has his playable shirt.

His shirt's Tetris game was created with an Arduino Uno, two Adafruit Matrix controllers, a 2 X 64 LED matrix (8 X 8) Flat SMD RGB LEDs (only one color soldered), four AA rechargeable batteries, 3D printed housings for the Arduino and the batteries and 3D printed soft material for the game-play buttons. Oh yeah, and Marc's shirt.
Marc, playing his Tetris shirt

In Adafruit's blog post about this mobile game shirt, they mention that,
"Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA."
Sewable Arduino-compatible FLORA
While it will take a lot more work than just a FLORA and a couple LEDs to make a textile computing project comparable to the Tetris shirt, a FLORA project might be a good place to start if you haven't done any fabric-based wearable computing projects. One Adafruit FLORA project that might be of interest to Humboldt residents is the 'Light Up Your Skateboard' project. Or maybe you'd like to wear a 'Sound-Reactive Baseball Hat' to the next Crabs game. The FLORA is only one of many MCU options for textile computing projects, but it's a good basis for a beginning project in this genre.

When we have a couple people in the Humboldt Microcontrollers Group who are interested in doing a fabric wearable computing project, we'll connect with a few people skilled with sewing machines at Origin Design Lab in Eureka and see if we can get a collaborative project going.


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