We present PolySense, a fabrication process for creating smart materials. PolySense adds electrical functionality to everyday fabrics. Using this method you can create jackets which measure your body movement, socks which count your steps, or gloves which heat your hands. PolySense might find application in VR, by creating thin, breathable gloves with precise motion tracking abilities, or in dance performances, by creating elastic, moving clothing, which might also control light and sound. All of this based on fabric augmentation, using tools you can find in any kitchen.
What are the problems you aim to help solve with this project?:
With my hackerspace friends, we were frustrated by the cost of the main piezo-resistive textile when making our eTextile music controller:
Then the manufacturer stopped selling it publicly, so we decided to make our own!
What are some of the major challenges you have encountered and how did you address them?:
We tried many approaches with copper, silver or carbon particles, but it never really worked (oxydization, etc). We tried replicating conductive ink patents, or even formulas in PhD thesis, but we didn't have the background.
Luckily, I met materials scientists and got the opportunity to spend a week as "maker resident" in their lab. We reverse engineered the reference material to understand it, and created our own DIY version!
We ended up creating a method for turning (almost) any fibrous or porous material into a conductor, resistor, pressure sensor, stretch sensor, humidity sensor, temperature sensor and even heating pad (which can nicely take on fire if desired!)