Thad Starner and Clint Zeagler from Georgia Tech have developed a series of “fabric manipulation interfaces” to control electronics using embroidered conductive thread. Using simple principles such as closing a circuit via touch and taking advantage of conductive thread’s resistance, these gestural interfaces are designed as explorations for various electronic controls including use in military garb (hey it’s Georgia Tech). Previously I had written about the pleat interface used for scrolling. Their explorations aren’t particularly new as we’ve seen numerous examples of conductive thread embroidery used as an interface (see Maggie Orth’s embroidered keypad back in 1998) but they have developed a nice collection that use both common and unique gestural controls.
The gestural controls used employ common electronic device metaphors such as the IPod scroll wheel and common body gestures such as sliding one’s hand into a pocket. Overall the study is a nice comprehensive overview on potential uses of conductive embroidery in wearable technology.