Embroidered Touch

This dress and skirt are embroidered with a colorful free-form grid of both electrically conductive and non-conductive threads. The silver-coated conductive threads, which are tightly wrapped in colorful embroidery thread, act as decorative elements as well as functional touch sensors. The gridded sensor arrangement enables us to track both the position and motion of touches. These integrated sensors might be used as an alternative computer interface, potentially for motion tracking or bio-sensing. We visualize the sensory data by transforming it from a wandering tangle of embroidery threads into animated movement driven by the position, speed and motion of the sensed touches.

Materials: cloth, embroidery thread, conductive thread, custom capacitive touch sensors, microcontroller, custom software.

Anke Loh in collaboration with technology artist Christopher Baker and ZSK Technical Embroidery Systems, Krefeld, Germany. ZSK team: Melanie Hoerr and Michaela Kasdorf, for research to develop sensory embroidery.

The resulting Embroidered Touch (Gestickte Berührung) garments will be on view at the Goethe Institut Chicago, and as part of the Wired to Wear wearable technology exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago. Wired to Wear runs March 21, 2019 – May 31, 2020, in the temporary exhibit gallery in the transportation court of the museum’s central pavilion.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.