Final Project: Gesture Gems

20
Dec

under ring
Gesture Gems

Gesture Gems

In creating Gesture Gems, I wanted to explore the currently undersaturated market of interactive jewelry to see if it is possible to create interactive jewelry that is both fun to use and aesthetically pleasing from a purely visual standpoint, with great attention paid to the craftsmanship of each piece.

Attempts at including wearable technologies into jewelry to date are often either boring or unattractive; it is as though by sticking an LED into a piece of jewelry, the designer is exempt from the normal sets of design requirements that creating a piece of jewelry normally implies. I wanted to look deeper into this area and see what exactly is so difficult about including technology into jewelry design—is it a shortage in collaboration between engineers and designers, or perhaps simply a need for more subtlety? In order to investigate this issue, I sketched up a collection of ideas for interactive jewelry designs and executed two of them with painstaking attention to craftsmanship and details. Each of the two pieces involves modifying a plain piece of jewelry bought at Forever 21 and using various techniques to alter their appearance and embed simple LED circuits that turn on during different interactions.

Previous posts on Gesture Gems.

Initial inspiration [and iteration].

Further prototypes and sketches.

Process documentation for the final necklace and ring set.

Additional Links.

Introductory post for Physical Computing.

Portfolio and documentation site for all my work while at Parsons.

I welcome your feedback.

I would love to hear any feedback on the project regarding either the concepts or the execution of the final designs. Do you think that these designs are more wearable than versions of interactive jewelry that are currently on the market? What could make them either more interesting or more aesthetically appealing to allow a user to want to wear them on a daily basis?

Category : Fall 2010 | Final Project: Gesture Gems | Physical Computing | Blog
19
Dec

In completing this project, I decided to finish up the enclosure for the ring prototype in order to make a polished version that can still be interchanged with other rings for the desired “magical” effect, and then to focus on a necklace and really try to see how far I can take the craftsmanship in order to make it really look like jewelry, not just some gizmo that you can technically strap around your neck.

The ring.

The final enclosure for the ring involved a necklace clasp so that you can quickly remove it from one ring and place it on another, or if you want the ring to be on all the time, you can simply clasp it to itself to complete the circuit and keep the ring on.

Gesture Gems

under ring
under ring

The necklace.

The necklace was supposed to carry further the theme of jewelry that can be worn either “on” or in normal mode. This necklace has an LED inside a painted butterfly figure (painted using clear puff paint and glass paint to fill in the lattice work). The LED is connect to two silver chains that hang from the bottom of the butterfly— when the butterfly chains are simply hanging, the circuit is open and the light says off. When the chains are crossed over and tied to close the circuit, the light turns on to give the butterfly a warm orange glow.

Gesture Gems
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Category : Fall 2010 | Final Project: Gesture Gems | Physical Computing | Blog
11
Dec

The inspiration board project had started to creep away from me back into the web coding sphere, so this week I decided to switch back to something that was both more relevant and in many ways more fun and satisfying: interactive jewelry. Below are some drawings of concepts I’ve been thinking up, and a further iteration of the ring I had done a couple weeks before.

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

The ring prototype.

I was able to improve on the ring from before by finding a small (yet no to small it can’t be soldered by a non-professional or computer) surface mount RBG LED—by using this new smaller part I was able to fully embed both the LED and the battery (two hearing aid batteries attached together) into the body of the ring itself, bringing everything out of sight.

Underside of ring

LED inside ring

Inside ring
Top of ring

Category : Fall 2010 | Final Project: Gesture Gems | Physical Computing | Blog
29
Oct

I chose to pursue the jewelry prototype for this week’s project, and set to work finding a way to integrate the circuits into the structure of the rings better, eliminating as much wire as possible and hopefully finding a ring that would allow a more diffused and interesting light effect. As luck would have it, I found a ring with clear plastic “crystals” laid out like a flower, which gave me the perfect opportunity for some pretty refracted light and a place to hide the LEDs themselves (of the smaller 3mm variety in order to fit). The crystals and flower motif, while a bit tacky in my eyes, actually fits well with my original role for the product as a fun jewelry item for young girls in elementary and middle school.

rings

I had also bought another bracelet to coordinate with the new ring, but decided that no matter what you did to minimize wire and obtrusiveness, there would always have to be wires connecting the person’s rings to their bracelet, so I decided to try to keep the entire system contained in the rings. In order to do this I needed a smaller battery, so I tried a 3V coin battery; unfortunately the voltage was not powerful enough to power all three super-bright LEDs that I had in position, (and it didn’t really fit anywhere without sticking out noticeably) so I had to go back to the drawing board. I bought a second coin battery to up the power, but also decided to try hearing aid batteries after sleuthing out their voltage (1.4V, conspicuously missing form the packaging). By strapping 6 of these little guys together, I was able to power the string of LEDs through two or three rings with adequate brightness.

Additional photos and video documentation are below.



 


 
rings

 

rings-palm
 

rings

Category : Fall 2010 | Final Project: Gesture Gems | Physical Computing | Blog
22
Oct

Curious Light #1: Magical Rings

In order to create the first of two “curious light” projects, I decided to relate it to one of my personal vices—wearing entirely too many rings. By connecting a circuit from my bracelet to multiple rings, I was able to make a “curious light” that lights up an LED on my pointer finger’s ring when all the fingers are touching each other. When they separate, the circuit is broken and the light turns off.

The three prototypes—role, look and feel, and implementation—are shown below.

Role.

Magic Rings is an interconnected set of interactive jewelry with an LED that lights up when you complete the circuit by closing your fingers (and thus the metal rings on them) together. The bracelet-ring set is a fun accessory for teen girls that want to wear fun chunky jewelry and also enjoy flashy pieces of technology. The bracelet and rings could be worn as she would wear any other accessories in her daily life.

Look and Feel.

The look and feel of the Magic Rings bracelet-ring set is that of a wrist and hand full of normal jewelry. While more rings than most people would wear, from the top of the hand it is unnoticeable that there is any circuitry in play. The weight of the bracelet and rings is no different than they would normally be due to the small size of the LED and minimal watch battery.



 

Implementation.

In order to implement the technology, it was impossible to completely separate the look and feel and implementation prototypes and still have them be valuable, so the implementation prototype simply builds upon the former. I hooked up the leftmost ring (on the ring finger) to the bracelet, connecting the metal bracelet to ground, and connected the LED-laden pointer-finger ring to the positive voltage from a 9V battery, creating an open circuit while the fingers are still open. The pointer-finger’s ring is non-conductive in most of its body, but has two strips of metal opposite each other that don’t touch—it is to the right-most of these two strips that I connected the positive voltage, while connected the two strips with the LED that is hidden in the ring’s beads. The metal strip on the other side is position such that it easily comes into contact with the metal ring on the user’s middle finger when the fingers are closed, closing the circuit.

For this prototype I used a 9V battery due to material constraints, but for further iterations I will change this out to use a watch battery in order to make the jewelry set wearable on a more practical scale.

 

 


 

Category : Fall 2010 | Final Project: Gesture Gems | Physical Computing | Blog