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Even you can build your own social wearable

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It's easier than you think to create your own wearable gadget -- assuming you're handy with a needle and thread. At Engadget Expand this weekend, Kate Hartman, an associate professor at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) University led workshops focused on building social wearables. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that my inability to sew well would hinder my wearable dreams. But, as you can see in the gallery below, others were far more successful.

Gallery: Engadget Expand Social Wearables Workshop | 9 Photos

I received a small bag of supplies at the beginning of the session -- including a watch battery, alligator clips, LED light, and conductive material -- as well as quick instructions on how to create basic circuits. Wiring up the light to the watch battery was easy enough. Even young children in my session managed to get their lights flickering. But it was when I had to figure out how I wanted to shape my wearable that things began to fall apart. By the time I figured out a design and started putting conductive thread to cloth, our time was up.

Hartman tapped a recipe from her recent book, Make: Wearable Electronics, to show us how we can create gloves that light up when we high-five a friend. Some attendees took the idea to another level by creating complex sleep bracelets with the same basic idea, while others made gloves that buzzed when they completed a circuit with other conductive wearables.

So far, the wearables trend has mostly focused on young and hip techies obsessed with tracking their daily activities. But Hartman's workshop showed there are plenty of other things they can do. We may not all want clothes that light up, but the same basic techniques could be used to customize clothing and accessories in a variety of ways. And the audience, which ranged from families with young children to senior citizens, seemed eager to explore all of those possibilities.

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