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Fire Tech at Big Bang Fair with Wearable Tech

Last week at the Big Bang Fair, Fire Tech Camp exhibited wearable tech for the judges from The Voice.

When the BBC called and asked us to propose a Wearable Tech feature for each of The Voice judges, we jumped at the chance!

First, it gave us a chance to show a population of 75,000 young people just how far you can push that concept of flashing an LED with an Arduino.

Second, it let us show our stuff and create some assets that we were really proud of. Jessica Cobb, who created and delivered last year’s Rapid Prototyping courses, headed up our efforts both in the design and the execution of the project.

Jessica Cobb (lead on the Wearable Tech project) and Jill Hodges (Fire Tech Camp Founder)

Third, it let us engage with the BBC at the launch of their Make it Digital campaign.

Rapid Making: What We Did

In five weeks and on a very restricted budget we created four tech-enabled outfits, representing each of the four judges from The Voice.

will.i.am‘s outfit featured a light sensor in his belt that triggered his 3D printed bow tie to spin around. 3D printing also allowed us to recreate a pair of specs he might just love. And we worked with French pigment company OlliKrom on a photochromic pigment colours that would turn his 3D-printed hat from yellow to red (Fire Tech Camp colours of course!) when it was exposed to UV light. This effect worked great with the torches, and was especially impressive when we took the hat outside. We are already thinking of all kinds of applications for these photo- thermo- and piezo- chromic colours!  (Oops we didn’t get his socks on in time for this photo!)

will.i.am’s wearable tech

Playing with will.i.am’s hat!

RITA ORA had an absolutely stunning dress that could change into any of 16 million colours! A Doppler proximity sensor in the front animated the dress when you danced in front of her. Several people told us that we should be in business creating these dresses for real live pop stars or people who want to look like them, but we’ll stick to getting kids and teens ready to take on such business themselves!

Rita Ora’s dress and dancing to make it light up!

SIR TOM JONES was a crooner’s dream with a tie that listened as you sang into a sound sensor and a board that would rate your efforts with famous quotes like “It’s not Unusual” or “Whoa Whoa Whoa”. The kids loved watching the tie light up to their efforts!

Sir Tom’s tie listening to some crooning efforts

RICKY WILSON had his 3D-printed heart on his, er, waistcoat. Kids and adults loved trying out the pulse sensor and watching Ricky’s heart beat in time with their own.

Ricky Wilson’s heart glows in rhythm

Beyond the opportunity to interact with the inputs and outputs of the sensors, young people could have a look at the code that made it all possible and change the variables that controlled colours and other attributes.

Inspiring the Next Generation

We had about 25,000 people come through the stand in the four days that we were there – we hope that some of those will remember our stand and be inspired now as they contemplate their Raspberry Pis and Arduinos, their neopixels, ultrasound sensors and 3D printers! Maybe they’ll even want to sign up for a Rapid Prototyping or Arduino course to figure out how to build interactive wearable tech themselves!

The Voice judges’ wearable tech proudly on display

Thank you to all the children and parents who came to test out the tech ahead of the Big Bang Fair, making sure we were well-prepared for the big event!

Photographs: Carl Stanley