A DIY LED Project

Someone identified as “push reset” has posted a DIY “wearable fashion” project to make a Bluetooth controlled LED necklace (or other body décor). (The poster is a teacher at California College of Art in SF.)

OK, this isn’t something I actually need myself, but it’s a pretty comprehensive exercise in DIY fashion tech, including wireless (Bluetooth), programming a controller (Intel Edison), laser cut acrylic, soldering, and leather working. Cool!

Anyone who completes this certainly knows how to use basic maker tools.

It is interesting to see just how low the barrier to entry has become: this project employs what was amazingly advanced and esoteric technology even a decade ago. Now it is considered stuff that any Art major can and should know how to do.

I’m particularly surprised to see the system and software fiddling that is involved in this project. Dinking around with python, FTP, enabling Bluetooth, and so on used to be stuff that professional engineers got paid to do. I’ve been there (a long time ago).

Honestly, in my own view, no one should ever have to do this kind of dreck.  (The first 7 pages of instructions are full of icky stuff like, “Open up puTTY and login in to the Edison.”  Heaven preserve us!)  Sorry about that. This is not, repeat, not the good part of computer science!

And don’t get me started on Bluetooth. Bluetooth and me don’t get along. Every programming project I’ve ever done with Bluetooth has been a nightmare of buggy interfaces, weak signals, and opaque software problems. This veteran system programmer has be defeated and humiliated more than once by Bluetooth.

And they expect Art majors to make it work, now? Wow!  You go, kids!

As to the product itself.  Well…

Myself, I have no personal interest in wearing stuff made of acrylic.

But I guess this is basically, “It could be done, so we had to do it”, and I certainly get that. Been there. The good news is that you should be able to take this as a lesson and think about how to make really interesting fashion.

If this were a commercial product, I’d probably consider condemning it to the Inappropriate Touch Screen File. Why do I need or want a touch screen to control my fashion accessories?

However, I have a blanket exception form the Inappropriate Touch Screen Files for students and hobbyists, and very lenient terms for Art majors. So this one gets a pass.

But be warned: if any of you try to make a commercial product out of this, you better have a very good reason for the touch screen, or you could very well be cited.

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