Before the LilyPad, if you wanted to incorporate a microcontroller into fabric projects you either had to create your own socket or hide a breadboard somewhere in the piece. When I was working with Rebecca on our REACTIVEfashion project, we used Arduino Minis on tiny breadboards hidden in pockets, sleeves, and purses.
The LilyPad evolved from Leah Buechley’s experiments with fabric PCBs. Her handmade, flexible fabric PCBs were absolutely stunning, but not easily mass-produced. She collaborated with SparkFun Electronics to create the LilyPad Arduino hardware which has been available for sale since October 2007. The LilyPad now comes as a kit with a variety of sewable modules such as LEDs, sensors, and battery holders. Leah has an introduction to the LilyPad on her site which walks you through the programming interface and set up if you are new to Arduino.
Right now I have the main board, usb adapter, an LED module, AAA battery board (though it is a bit bulky for my tastes), and a temperature sensor. My favorite module so far has to be the LiPower, which is enables you to incorporate a rechargable Lithium Polymer battery into your LilyPad project. Can’t wait to order more of the accessories and play!
Here are some tutorials and projects using the Lilypad:
- LilyPad projects on Instructables
- Craftzine’s Color Changing LED Brooch (uses a LilyPad LED module, not the main board)
- LilyPad 101 video from Craftzine
The LilyPad also has it’s own Flickr group – a great place to check out what other people are doing with it.