Experiments in wearable electronic art.

Welcome to the Anthrolume project

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Update: This post represents the project plan for Anthrolume 1.0, which debuted at Burning Man 2011. I’ve since been creating subsequent artifacts. See the recent posts for details on the progress of the second-, third-, and now forth-generation projects.

I’m Bryan, and I’ll be using this blog to describe an art project called “anthrolume” on which I’ve recently embarked. In this first post I’ll describe the basic idea of what I’m creating, and the progress thus far.

Project Description
Project Anthrolume is an experiment in wearable electronic art. It will consist of an array of computer-controlled color LEDs distributed over the body of the wearer. The wearer will be able to trigger various configurations and animations of light on his body, and will be able to use both internal and external stimulus to make the emitted patterns reflect his mood or the environment around him.

The project is cross-disciplinary. While it is an expression in visual art, it requires some electrical and software engineering.

Technical Plans
LED configuration
Planned LED configuration

The current plan is to use an I2C network of 50 ThingM MinM RGB smart LEDs controlled by a single Arduino Uno microcontroller. I may switch up to a Netduino if I need more horsepower (and because I’m good at C#, etc.)

At right is the planned distribution of the LEDs on the front of the wearer. By lighting up head, arms, legs, spine and middle column of LEDs in the middle, I can create a rudimentary stick figure that should be discernable over great distances. Also the 4×5 grid of LEDs in the middle provides a flexible area for display of patterns, including possibly scrolling text.

The wearer will need a belt that contains the microcontroller and a bunch of batteries. (With all the LEDs on and showing white at full brightness, the LEDs could draw 3A.)

For user control, the current plan is to use fingertips-shorting-to-thumb. That is, each hand would be able to provide four bits of input, allowing 256 messages to be sent to the microcontroller.

Up Next
I’m expecting the first of the hardware to arrive this week – an Arduino Uno and five of the smart LEDs. This will allow me to create a tiny network and test how fast I can control the LEDs.

Author: regenesis

Seattle New Media artist.

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