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Discover the possibilities of the future with wearables

Fabricademy participant Tanja Lovrić is developing a tactile display for blind people in her final project

“Creative Commons” by Tanja Lovrić. License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A young family man can determine the exact position of his toddler in the room and thus optimally take care of his or her safety and needs - even if he is blind. That is the vision of Tanja Lovrić, who has been working scientifically for three years on the development of individualized aids and Assistive Technology (AT). In the Fabricademy, a globally implemented training program, she continues her education and learns how to use the latest technologies in the textile industry, digital manufacturing and design. In the transdisciplinary training, she gets to know, among other things, how to work with computational couture, e-textiles and wearables as well as soft robotics.

In the search for a final project, she becomes aware of a request from a young family who is hoping for support in everyday life through an individual aid: The blind father is looking for a way to be able to locate his small child quickly and easily in the room. Tanja's idea: a tracking system that uses vibration motors to give the father a position in the room on a haptic feedback display. The tracking system includes, on the one hand, appropriate floor equipment, for example using RFID technology, and, on the other hand, the wearable, to which the information is transmitted via Bluetooth or WLAN. If the child changes their position in the room, this is indicated by vibrations at different points on the item of clothing.

Tanja concentrates on the development of the haptic feedback display and designs a wearable for the palm of the hand initially with 16 vibration motors, which are arranged in a 4 × 4 matrix and represent the floor plan of a room. They precisely transmit the vibrations from the motors to the skin on the back of the hand. “During development, it was initially important to test the electronic feedback system,” explains the trained engineer. "It was clear here that the system shouldn't be too heavy and big so that the item of clothing is really wearable."

Flexible Leiterplatte des Wearables
Flexible circuit board made of copper foil on the approx. 4 mm thick hardwork with the SMD components soldered on it
3D-Druck auf Kunstleder
3D printing the motor mount on the synthetic leather to make the shape flexible

The vibration motors in Tanja's prototypes are only 10 mm in diameter and 8 mm in height. They are arranged individually in a 3D-printed housing and soldered onto a flexible printed circuit board (PCB) using very flexible silicone cables. Connections were made by conductive copper foil, which was then soldered to the electronic (SMD) components on copper foil. Tanja emphasizes: “When dealing with textiles, the question always comes up: How does it feel on the skin? Is the material adaptable and flexible enough? In the Fabricademy For example, I learned how to create flexible connections that can withstand movement. "

Verbindung von Hardware und Textil
Connection between the hardware (pinhaeder) and the textile
Verbindungen auf Textil
Connection between two components embroidered on the textile

After Tanja die Fabricademy has completed, she is finalizing her project “What Step” and is testing, among other things, the attachment to other parts of the body, such as the thigh, and how a higher number of motors can be guaranteed. She would like to share her idea with people who can use her aid in everyday life.

The project is protected by the Creative Commons.