Today was Fashion Hacking day with Diana Eng at NYC Resistor and I've wanted to make these keyboard pants for a long time. The basic idea was to take a flexible silicone keyboard and somehow integrate it with some pants (or shorts). I had they keyboards laying around for a while and I ran down to the Conways to get some jeans for about $8 (Yay fulton mall!)
This was inspired by a cool project I saw a long time ago on the hypernets: http://www.engadget.com/2008/04/23/keyboard-infused-pants-make-it-okay-to-grab-your-crotch/
Now, the question was how do I attach the keyboard to the pants? Well, the first step was to cut the keyboard in half. I could've tried to put it somewhere different, but I wanted it to be in a place where it was convenient to type... which is right in the middle of your thighs.
Once I had cut them in half, I inspected the circuit to see just how hard it would be to solder the traces back together. Unfortunately it was impossible to solder traces on, and it was equally hard to use conductive thread to join the traces. After a bit of fussing, I abandoned the idea of having a fully functional keyboard and just went for style points. Interestingly enough, the left side of the keyboard still works (its attached to the USB cord still)
My basic process for making these was simple:
- Scan the keyboards in on a desktop scanner.
- Import the images into Inkscape and trace vectors around all the keys.
- Open the SVG into Corel Draw for lasercutting. (power to 85, speed to 70)
- Lasercut the jeans with a piece of wood between the layers so it only cut the front.
- Sew around the edges of the keyboard to attach them to the jeans. The edges were just silicone which was really easy to sew through.
- Sew a patch behind the keyboard so that its not silicone directly on your skin (gets a bit sweaty)
It was a fun afternoon build process, and I really enjoyed combining hacking and clothing (and fashion?). Sewing was actually pretty fun, but so is everything else that involves dangerous objects. I also really enjoyed the physical object -> digital design -> physical object from using the scanner as the initial data input.
Oh, and even though the keyboard just barely functions, here's a video of me kicked back playing Tetris on them: