Arduino Wearable Projects

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Arduino Wearable Projects by Tony Olsson

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Almost 10 years have passed since I picked up my first Arduino board. At the time, I was an interaction design student at Malmö University. At the front of the classroom that day, there was a bearded Spaniard talking, rather claiming, that he could teach us all about electronics and how to do programming for microprocessors, all in 1 week. Of course, since I knew nothing about electronics and never thought I would learn anything about it, I did not believe him.


The Spaniard had a completely new approach to teaching, which I had never encountered before. He wanted to teach us, not by books and lectures, but by doing things. One of my classmates pointed out that most of us did not know anything about electronics, so how are we supposed to do anything with it? The Spaniard replied that it does not matter, you can do things without knowing what you are doing, and by doing them, you will learn.


After 15 minutes, we all had connected a small lamp to our Arduino boards, and we had managed to program the lamp so that it would turn itself on and off. What baffled me was not only what we had achieved in such little time, but also that parts of what was going on actually made sense. We were learning by doing.


The bearded Spaniard was actually David Cuartielles, who together with Massimo Banzi, just 1 year before, invented the Arduino board. Soon after they invented it, Tome Igoe and David Mellis joined the team, and as they say, the rest is history. But I still remember that day, as if it was yesterday, when I looked down at my blinking light and something sparked inside me. I wanted to learn and do more. Then David gave me the second valuable lesson, that the best way to learn more is to share your knowledge with others, and he put me in a position where I was able to do so. Again I was skeptical, since I had no knowledge to speak of, but again the lesson followed, even if you only know a little, it is enough to help those that know nothing yet.


Soon after, I found out about a field called wearable computing. The idea was to design and apply a technology to the human body in different ways, and it all sounded as wonderfully crazy as the idea that you could learn electronics and programming without any prior knowledge of how to do so. With inspiration from Arduino and its team members, I leaped headfirst into the field. In this new field, I found new inspiration in the works of Steve Mann and Leah Buechley. Mann, now a professor at the University of Toronto, developed his own wearable computer in the 80s and had mostly done so on his own. Buechley, also a professor at MIT, had taken the Arduino board and developed a new prototyping platform, which is specialized for a wearable context. Both seemed to have done this against all the odds. Again, I was inspired, and started to develop my own wearable devices, teaching others how to do the same. Eventually, I collected enough know-how on things that I started to write them down. When I started to share my writing, I found out how truly amazing the Arduino community is a world-wide group of people that share a love for making things with electronics.


It's safe to say that if it had not been for all these people, I probably would never have written any of my books, so I would like to extend my thanks to all. I would also like to thank you for picking up this book. You might be a novice or an expert, but I do hope it will not matter. This book is based on the idea that anyone can learn anything by the simple principle of actually "doing." If you are already an expert, then you know there is always something to learn from "doing" things in a new way.


So, I hope you will gain some new knowledge and inspiration from the projects we created in this book, and I wish you all the best in your creating endeavors.


Who this book is for

For readers familiar with the Arduino prototyping platform with some prior experienced with ordinary hardware tools.


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