Wearable technology is big news right now, especially with the recent launch of the Apple Watch and the ongoing success of Pebble. We’ve heard talk of wearable devices for some time, but it seems like it’s finally making its way onto the market in a real sense.
In other words, there’s never been a better time to join in as a maker. But how do you get started creating wearable tech? This is a whole different category of technology, and as such, it comes with its own challenges and obstacles.
Read on, and we’ll take a look at some of the best resources and tools for getting started on your own wearable tech. All the boards, sensors and components are already out there, it’s just a matter of applying a little imagination to combine them in a creative way.
Easy Pulse Sensor
A lot of wearable devices these days, have heart rate monitors built in them. Fortunately, you can create your own one fairly easily, and especially if you get the Easy Pulse Sensor which is a DIY project from Tindie for $20. You can find it here.
Chip brands itself as the world’s first $9 computer. If that sounds familiar, then of course, that’s because the concept is similar to the Raspberry Pi, only it’s cheaper and smaller. Just small enough to fit into a smartwatch for instance…
Chip began life on Kickstarter and is not yet available, but it far exceeded its goal. So, you can expect to get your hands on it soon. You can find out more about Chip here.
FLORA meanwhile, is another board like Raspberry Pi and ODroid-U3, but specifically intended for DIY wearables. FLORA comes from Adafruit and is a round, fabric-friendly, Aduino based microcontroller. It comes in various sizes and iterations, and can include a number of built-in sensors including accelerometers, GPS and compasses – half the work is done for you, and it’s very affordable!
LilyPad Arduino is another very similar microcontroller that is designed specifically for use with wearables and e-textiles. It is designed to be sewn onto fabrics and has a board based on the ATmega168V. You can find more details, and the schematic here.
MakeyMakey is another Kickstarter project that has potential for creating wearable tech. This is essentially a tool for creating controllers (apart from an array of other applications). In one demonstration, we see the team create their own banana piano, but this could easily be used to build some form of wearable controller.
Imagine the Raspberry Pi, but running Android. That’s basically what you get with the ODroid-U3, which costs just $35 and weighs only 38g with a heat sink. It’s tiny too, and seeing as most smartwatches run on Android, it’s a no-brainer! The U3 and other models can be found here.
This is just a small selection of the boards, sensors, and other pieces that you can find to create your own wearable tech with. All you need to do is order them, assemble the parts, and 3D-print your chassis. Don’t assume that wearable technology is beyond your capabilities – do some research, give it a go, and you might just surprise yourself with what you can design.