Arduino and other microcontrollers are basically tiny computers that let you add programmability to your project. With a microcontroller, you can incorporate light animations, sensors, motors, sounds, and more, all driven by code. Wearable microcontrollers are often circular in form, and can be both sewn and soldered to. All the boards listed below are washable.
There are many wearable microcontrollers to choose from, and scores of wearable components that you can connect to. Let’s take a look at some great microcontrollers specifically designed for wearables
LilyPad is the original sewable microcontroller, invented by Leah Buechley and produced by SparkFun. This is the board that ignited the DIY wearable movement when it was released in 2007. Today, there are other boards based on Buechley’s iconic design, and even the LilyPad itself comes in several different flavours. The LilyPad line also includes sewable LEDs, sensors, buttons, switches, battery holders, and more.
Inspired by the original LilyPad Arduino, the FLORA wearable platform by Adafruit is powerful, easy to use, and supported by a massive library of tutorials created by Adafruit and its community. Work through a few Adafruit tutorials, and you’ll be designing your own wearable projects in no time. The FLORA line includes sewable versions of powerful components like GPS, a Bluetooth module, and NeoPixels, Adafruit’s highly addictive individually-addressable LEDs.
GEMMA is a 1 inch diameter version of FLORA that’s perfect for smaller projects that only require a few inputs and outputs. It’s great for beginners, and can feel less intimidating than a bigger board with lots of bells and whistles. Despite its small size, GEMMA still has convenient features like a built-in on/off switch, a JST battery connector, and micro USB for programming.
The TinyLily Mini by TinyCircuits is about the size of a thumbnail. It’s unbelievably tiny! To achieve this tiny size, the board lacks some conveniences built into bigger boards, and requires a separate USB converter for programming. But with the same processor as a full-sized LilyPad Arduino, it’s still powerful enough to drive some truly awesome wearable projects.
StitchKit is a new wearable microcontroller designed specifically for fashion tech and wearables by MakeFashion. Based on their experience running fashion shows, the StitchKit is designed to combine durability with ease of use for fashion designers who are new to working with hardware. The StitchKit Kickstarter campaign has been fully funded, and MakeFashion plans to start shipping boards in April