On this page all the different elements of the platform will be highlighted. Many parts make a complete game platform and that’s also the reason why so many different elements are included in this platform. The design of platform was formed after many game and platform concepts, looking at the similarities of the concepts. With this and play testing some game concepts we knew what the necessary elements were in this platform. The platform consists of a sweater and a pair of jeans.
The e-wearable platform needs a fast and portable computer to do all the calculations. We didn’t have the time or budget to create a computer from scratch, so we chose to use a smartphone instead. The smartphone is wirelessly connected with the clothing through bluetooth and the speakers are plugged into the jack of the phone. The game/program/app is running on the phone and indirectly controlling the whole platform.
The heart of the e-wearable platform are the three Arduino Lilypad boards. These prototyping boards are cheap, easy to use and most of all made for wearable applications (washable). These three Arduino boards are connected with each other so they can communicate and send data. The program of running the electronics and registering the sensor input are uploaded on the these boards. The second arduino will run the code for the 12×12 rgb led pixel screen, the second will handle the heart rate sensor and the master arduino will handle everything else.
The wireless connection is handled by a small bluetooth module. The bluetooth connection makes it possible to send large amount of data from and to the platform. Bluetooth is a reliable and protected system and it doesn’t require any extra hardware, nowadays every smartphone has bluetooth.
12 x 12 RGB LED Pixel Screen
The screen on the belly of the user is not used as a visual feedback system for the user, but for other people or players. It shows outstanders what you’re doing and other players information about the game. The screen consists of 144 RGB led pixels. This means we can easily chain these pixels and show more than 32000 different colors. They also are light, small and affordable.
Sound is the most important feedback we have in this platform and the speakers will be located in the hood of the clothing. This gives the player the choice of keeping the audio more private or when the hood is lowered to let other players listen to what’s happening. We are using active speakers, because they are more powerful than headphone speakers.
To register body movement there are many sensors to pick from, but we decided to go for bend sensors. Other possibilities would be accelerometers, gyro sensors or stretch sensors. Accelerometers and gyro sensors are expensive, hard and pretty big. They also need a lot of computing. Stretch sensors don’t give enough control over the data, because the movement of the stretch sensor is too small. Bend sensors are great, we made them out of fabrics and conductive wire. The result is a cheap, soft and washable sensor, giving enough data to determine body movement.
Heart Rate Sensor
Using your heart rate in a game is really fun, with this data the game can adapt to the heart rate of the user. This is really interesting for sport games or horror games. We’re using the Pulse Sensor a plug and play 5V heart rate sensor for the arduino. The sensor is placed on your ear, because this gives the best readings and you don’t need to wear the sensor on your finger.
Shake motors gives the platform haptic feedback and this adds just a little bit more to the platform than only using audio as feedvback. The shake motors we’re using are from a pager. They are really small, but shake noticeable. Three motors are used in this platform, two at the front next to your left and right arm and the third is placed on your back near your neck. To control these motors we created a custom board.
To power all the electronics there was only one possibility and that’s a battery. The battery is a 7.2V LiPo battery giving enough juice for around 6 hours of continuous playing. They are rechargeable and connected with a tiny 5V converter.
For some features we needed to create custom boards. The first board is a small I2C board to connect two different arduino’s with each other. The second board is a small multiplexer to add more analog ports to the arduino. And the third board is one for the shaker motors. We also created a small board with resistors for the bend sensor and a master 5V board.