Intro to Wearables Spring 2020

Class Times

Tuesday, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM


Jingwen’s Office Hours

Course Description

With emerging research and development with soft circuit technologies and its integration into textile and clothing design, the garment as a reactive interface opens up new possibilities in engendering self-expressions, sensory experiences and more. This 14 weeks class is to introduce students to this realm by creating connections between hardware engineering and textile crafting. The class is for students with basic physical computing knowledge to explore the possibility of wearables, and arouse discussion about the potential in re-imagining our relationship with personal devices, textiles and garment design as an interactive media.


What will students do?

The class will contain the process of wearable design and prototyping. We will look at the history of textiles and fashion, and discuss how they and technology influenced each other. The topics we will discuss in class will include senses, expressions, communications, identities, and social justice. We will explore a variety of wearables and e-textile technologies, including but not limited to: conductive textile crafting, on-body sensors, actuators, modular circuitry, wireless communications, and manufacturing. Students will get hands-on experience of designing and prototyping wearable projects individually or in groups.


How will the course be structured?

Each class will be a hybrid of presentations, in-class discussions, and hands-on workshops. For each class, the instructor will bring up different topics, share existing projects and research, or invite guest speakers from the fashion technology industry, to discuss the different aspects of current fashion technology, e-textiles, and wearables field. During the workshops, students will take design exercises to practice user experience design methodology for wearables, and also learn different techniques of textile crafting, soft circuitry, and physical computing.



Week 1: Introduction

Jan 28

  • Introduction
  • Presentation: What is wearable?
  • In-class activity: Getting started with soft circuitry
  • Assignment:
    • Create an LED embroidery soft circuit. Schematic is shown below. You could add more LEDs or more switches. The embroidery could be on a piece of textile or on clothing. Be “creative” with the switch.
    • Watch: The Next Black

Week 2: Senses

Feb 4

  • Presentation: Senses?
  • Discussion: Is technology blocking our senses or enhancing our senses?
  • Project show and tell
  • Assignment  (2 weeks):
    • Creating a new sense through wearables.
    • Mandatory sewing machine session w/ Jingwen


Week 3: Techniques – Hardware for Wearables

Feb 11

  • Presentation: Serial communications, I2C and SPI, connectors and wiring basics
  • In-class activity: Sensory experiments,
  • In-class activity: On-body visualizations: Experiment with different on-body visualization methods, including LEDs, reactive pigments and kinetic constructions
  • Soldering
  • Assignment  (2 weeks):
    • Creating a new sense through wearables.
    • Mandatory sewing machine session w/ Jingwen

Week 4: Expressions and Identities

Feb 18

  • Project show and tell
  • Discussion: How do garments express?
  • Assignment (2 weeks):
    • Creating a garment to express a message/information/data to people around you.
    • Mandatory sewing machine session w/ Jingwen


Week 5: Techniques – Textile Basics

Feb 25

  • Presentation: Fiber and fabrics
  • In-class activities: Basic sewing with sewing machines, draping basics
  • Assignment (2 weeks):
    • Creating a garment to express a message/information/data to people around you. 
    • Mandatory sewing machine session w/ Jingwen


Week 6: Connectivity

Mar 3

  • Project show and tell
  • Presentation: Connected wearables
  • Discussion: IoT of wearables: security, privacy, and connectivity
  • Assignment (2 weeks): Turn one of the previous wearable projects into a wireless one


Week 7: Techniques – Wireless Communications

Mar 10

  • In-class activity: Bluetooth, Wifi, and NFC communications
  • Assignment (2 weeks):
    • Reading: No to NoUI
    • Turn one of the previous wearable projects into a wireless one


Week 8: Manufacturing and Crafting I

Mar 24

  • Wireless wearable project show and tell part I
  • Presentation: Manufacture of hardware and textiles, and the conjunctions
  • In-class activity: Crafting methods: embroidery, knitting, crochet, weaving

Week 9: Manufacturing and Crafting II

Mar 31

  • Guest speaker: TBD
  • In-class activity: PCB Design for wearables

Week 10: Sustainability

Apr 7

  • Presentation: Sustainable Fashion
  • Discussion: Sustainable and ethical fashion

Week 11: Final Project Development I

Apr 14

  • Guest speaker: TBD
  • Show & tell: final project ideas.

Week 12:  Final Project Development II

Apr 21

  • In-class work session: system diagram, user experience design for wearables, wearable project planning


Week 13: Final Project Development III

Apr 28

  • In-class activity: garment finishing


Week 14: Final presentation

May 5



20%   In-class participation
30%   Bi-weekly projects
30%   Final project
20%   Blog & documentation


Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work as though it were your own. More specifically, plagiarism is to present as your own: A sequence of words quoted without quotation marks from another writer or a paraphrased passage from another writer’s work or facts, ideas or images composed by someone else.


The core of the educational experience at the Tisch School of the Arts is the creation of original academic and artistic work by students for the critical review of faculty members.  It is therefore of the utmost importance that students at all times provide their instructors with an accurate sense of their current abilities and knowledge in order to receive appropriate constructive criticism and advice.  Any attempt to evade that essential, transparent transaction between instructor and student through plagiarism or cheating is educationally self-defeating and a grave violation of Tisch School of the Arts community standards.  For all the details on plagiarism, please refer to page 10 of the Tisch School of the Arts, Policies and Procedures Handbook, which can be found online at:


Please feel free to make suggestions to your instructor about ways in which this class could become more accessible to you.  Academic accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities. Please contact the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 212 998-4980 for further information.


Your health and safety are a priority at NYU. If you experience any health or mental health issues during this course, we encourage you to utilize the support services of the 24/7 NYU Wellness Exchange 212-443-9999. Also, all students who may require an academic accommodation due to a qualified disability, physical or mental, please register with the Moses Center 212-998-4980. Please let your instructor know if you need help connecting to these resources.


Laptops will be an essential part of the course and may be used in class during workshops and for taking notes in lecture. Laptops must be closed during class discussions and student presentations.  Phone use in class is strictly prohibited unless directly related to a presentation of your own work or if you are asked to do so as part of the curriculum.


Tisch School of the Arts to dedicated to providing its students with a learning environment that is rigorous, respectful, supportive and nurturing so that they can engage in the free exchange of ideas and commit themselves fully to the study of their discipline. To that end Tisch is committed to enforcing University policies prohibiting all forms of sexual misconduct as well as discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.  Detailed information regarding these policies and the resources that are available to students through the Title IX office can be found by using the following link: Title IX at NYU.