Knitgadget: High-tech yarn can control devices and play tunes

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Mariella Moon
June 26th, 2014
In this article: art, RoyalCollegeOfArt
Knitgadget: High-tech yarn can control devices and play tunes

See the glove in this video? It's made of conductive yarn that's 80 percent polyester and 20 percent stainless steel, which gives it the power to control electronic components. In fact, its creator, Royal College of Art student Yen Chen Chang, wired it so that it functions as a wearable musical instrument that's both a keyboard and a guitar. This glove is but one of Chang's unusual creations designed to control devices without the use of buttons and touchscreens, though. He also covered a huge ball with the magical yarn to control a juicer -- the harder you squeeze the ball, the more juice you get. Then there's the mat that controls a small electric fan when you rub it, and a thin strip of knitted material that can dim and brighten a lamp when you pull on it.

How does the technology work, you ask? Well, when you rub, pull or stroke the crocheted material, the stainless steel component experiences changes in conductivity. These fluctuations are then measured by an Arduino board and conveyed to the devices, which in this case are the juicer, fan and lamp. Chang believes his yarn has a future in wearable computing and dreams of working with sportswear companies that make knitted footwear in the future.

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