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Thesis Defense - Buechley

An Investigation of Computational Textiles with Applications to Education and Design
Computer Science PhD Candidate
11/1/2007
3:00pm-5:00pm

The blossoming research field of computational textiles, electronic textiles or e-textiles integrates computation with fabric; e-textile researchers weave, solder and sew electronics into cloth to build soft, flexible and washable computational devices. E-textiles is a young discipline, and developments in the field have been relegated almost exclusively to research labs in industry and academia.

This thesis presents a collection of advancements that makes e-textiles accessible to new audiences. It details developments in e-textile engineering, design and applications that facilitate the democratization of e-textiles (and computing, engineering, and design more generally). It describes new techniques that enable researchers (and others) to integrate electronic hardware with cloth, including a method for creating printed circuit boards on fabric; details the design and development of novel wearable displays, including a woven breaded bracelet; and discusses educational applications of e-textiles.

The discussion of educational e-textiles focuses on the development of the LilyPad Arduino, a construction kit that enables novices to build their own soft computational devices by sewing stitch-able microcontroller, sensor, and actuator modules together with conductive thread. The construction kit was developed through an iterative design process that involved several user studies, and preliminary results indicate that the kit provides a potentially powerful means to engage diverse audiences in programming and electronics.

Committee: Michael Eisenberg, Associate Professor (Chair)
Clayton Lewis, Professor
Elizabeth Bradley, Professor
Andrzej Ehrenfeucht, Distinguished Professor
Mark Gross, Carnegie Mellon University
Lecia Barker, Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society Institute
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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