• Ramyah Gowrishankar
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Turn-around textile interface

This is an interface prototype that explores the textile quality of being able to be flipped inside out. The crocheted interface has two textured sides distinguished by two colours. The ends have magnetic buttons which can be closed to switch-on the controller. Once closed, the loop shape enables one to flip it around from the centre, bringing the yellow and the grey sides alternatively from inside to outside. With each flip, a value is sent with the integrated x-bee module to a computer or another device which can process this information and respond accordingly. The example shown here is that of a light dimmer. To control a light source, the e-textile interface first switched on by  joining the magnetic ends and then flipped as many times as desired. The colour that is on the inside when the ends are connected determines if the light is to be dimmed or brightened. (Yellow inside for brightening, and Grey inside for dimming). With each flip the value is sent to the light source which correspondingly brightens or dims.The prototype is a proof of concept/example for exploring an interaction-driven approach to designing e-textile forms.

eCrafts Collective

The eCrafts Collective is an initiative by Kati Hyyppä and I, often working in collaboration with different crafters, makers and experts of various fields. Kati and I started working together in the quest for fascinating, unexpected and delightful combinations of traditional crafts and electronics. Craft knowledge is versatile and has adapted with time to the availability of resources and materials. In todays world, it is possible to think of electronics as another, additional material for crafts. Taking this idea to practice, we explore traditional textiles, patterns and crafting techniques in the spirit of open design, and organize also workshops that bring different communities together. An important aspect of the e-crafts adventures is to meet people face to face and to gain insights into local cultures, traditions and folklores. In the course of the explorations electronics become another ingredient in the mix, and the traditional artefacts get a new twist, remaining still connected to the stories of the past.

Since early 2012, as ‘eCrafts Collective’; Kati and I have organized several e-crafts related workshops in Helsinki, Riga, Aizpute and Berlin. The last two years, we have worked closely with SERDE, a multidisciplinary Arts Centre in a little historical town called Aizpute, Latvia and have completed two artists in residency projects there, namely “Single Women’s eCrowns” and “eWeaving Belts” which were developed in confluence with our conversations and learning from craft experts about the culture, stories, skills and techniques. Read more about our work and activities on our project blog:


The soft radio

‘Soft Radio’ is a crocheted spherical device that fits in the palm of your hand. It is soft to hold and has a texture of any regular crocheted textile. The radio has a loop on top that can be twisted to change between two modes: volume and channel seeking. The values corresponding to the present mode ( i.e volume or fm band frequency) can be changed by wrapping the knitted chord around the crocheted sphere. The direction of the wrapping determines if the values are decreased or increased. It has 2 LEDs that give a visual indication of the states of the radio and a power switch made from a metal snap button. A set of headphones can be attached via the headphone port. The materials used include simple electronic components, conductive yarns and regular wool.

The soft radio is an attempt to illustrate the opportunities of creating ‘soft’ digital interfaces by deriving interaction-gestures from the context of textiles and interpreting traditional craft techniques for incorporating electronics in a way that complements the material characteristics of textiles. The radio acts as a starting point to my doctoral research that, amongst other things, aspires to develop an interaction language specific to the medium of fabrics rather than borrowed from regular electronic devices.



Smart Textile Salon, June 6th 2013, Ghent, Belgium.


Crocheted Stylus

Crocheted Stylus are made by crocheting normal yarn and conductive yarn. Having the shape of short hollow tubes, they fit onto the back of any pens or pencils and are interchangeable. The crochet texture gives a nice texture and a proper grip for writing.


Textiles Interaction Lab

Textiles Interaction Lab (TextIL) was an year long initiative to promote and facilitate design and research in the field of electronic textiles at Aalto. This Aalto Media Factory funded project was faciliated by Ramyah Gowrishankar and Raija Jokinen in collaboration by the Design Department at Aalto ARTS. While developing a resource & materials pool for supporting different e-textile related projects, we also organized hands-on e-textiles workshops, a demonstration lecture from Suunto and hosted a week long Arcintex network meeting for e-textile researchers across Europe.

Project overview:

The two main motivations behind starting TextIL were to encourage sharing of resources and knowledge regarding e-textiles amongst the various departments inside Aalto University as well to establish relations with other universities to facilitate design thinking on a larger level for this medium. Some of the main TextIL activities were as follows: In spring 2013, two workshops called “Introduction to textile lighting and soft circuits” and “Textile thinking for electronics” were organized that gave an hands-on experience of combining electronics and textiles through prototyping with different materials such as conductive yarns and soft sensors. Students from different departments such as Media Lab, Textile and Fashion Design and Dept. of Electronics participated in these 2-day workshops. This gave the students of different disciplines interested in the subject an opportunity to meet and work together. In Autumn 2012, a presentation and demonstration by Kimmo Pernu,  the Innovation Architect at Suunto, was organized at the Media Factory Auditorium. The talk; titled “Wearable computers, e-Textiles and Smart Clothing Design – What’s next?”; focused on discussing the future possibilities and directions for e-textile practitioners especially from an industry perspective. Kimmo also brought with him several prototypes and examples from Suunto that the audience enjoyed learning about in a more informal afternoon session of demonstrations and explorations. In February 2013, TextIL in collaboration with the Embodied Interaction Lab, hosted this year’s ArcInTex network meeting at Aalto ARTS. ArcInTex is a international network of professionals and researchers from the fields of architecture, interaction design and textiles. This was a week long event consisting of workshops and a seminar that was attended by about 50 participants from different universities across Europe. Three day workshops in 3D printing, thermal printing and e-embroidery were organized for PhD students in the network who got the opportunity to share and learn while trying out new techniques and the facilities available in Aalto ARTS. Apart from these main events, TextIL has been supporting other courses in wearable electronics by building a pool of e-textiles related materials such as conductive threads, micro-controllers, sensors etc. that are accessible to the students to use for prototyping during these courses.

People Involved:

Textiles interaction lab was a project led by Ramyah Gowrishankar and Raija Jokinen with the support of Aalto Media Factory and worked in collaboration with the Department of Design at Aalto ARTS. Thanks to Pirjo Kääriäinen and Jussi Mikkonen for their help and involvement. Textile thinking for electronics workshop was organized in collaboration with Mikelis Studers and Peter Tapio from ElectroShop at Design Factory. ArcInTex network workshop and seminar ( organized by Jussi Mikkonen (Manager, Embodied Interaction Lab, Dept. of Design), Textile Interaction Lab (AMF + DOD) with Pirjo Kääriäinen (Dept. of Design)

For more detailed information about the project please visit the project blog:

For more photos from the project view our flickr set :

Introduction to soft circuits. Workshop at Aalto ARTS

Textile thinking for electronics. Workshop at Aalto ARTS

Wearable computers, e-Textiles and Smart Clothing Design – What’s next? Presentation and Demo by Kimmo Pernu

Arcintex Netwrok meeting at Aalto ARTS

DeFInt (MA thesis)

Designing Fabric Interactions (DeFInt): A study of knitted fabrics as an electronic interface medium was the subject of my masters thesis in New Media at Media Lab Helsinki. The focus was to specifically use the familiar “language” of fabrics to create novel experiences and interactions in our everyday scenarios.

Defint aspires to investigate the existing interactions and our material understanding of fabrics to find opportunities for creating interesting and fun interfaces. It is an in-depth material study as well as an attempt on building a more creative and active relationship with one’s surroundings through e-textile artefacts. These fabric artefacts react to different gestures as well as various objects that it comes in contact with.

The field of electronic textiles although a young one, has gained momentum in the last decade. Textiles have been an integral part of our cultures for thousands of years and have adapted to the different needs and lives of people. They provide a rich source for interactions and scenarios from the context of our everyday lives that can be reinterpreted for electronic interfacing. Creative practitioners working in the field of e-textiles aim at efficiently combining electronics with traditional fabric materials. However, not many have tried to derive inspiration from the existing language of fabrics to design these interfaces. Most of the commercial e-textile products, while incorporating cutting-edge technologies, seem to copy or directly follow previous trends in wearable computing rather than truly attempting to design specifically for the medium of fabrics.

This project explores methods of integrating fabrics and electronics to create interfaces that are specific to the medium of textiles. Following the approach of ludic design, this work also emphasises the potential of e-textile interfaces to invite unexpected interpretations and responses from the users while enabling an active, creative relationship with their surroundings. The practical work focuses on an in-depth study of knitted fabrics as a medium for electronic interfaces. The process involves working and experimenting with knitting yarns, conductive threads and off-the-shelf electronics while using traditional fabric construction tools like knitting and sewing machines. Using a material-driven approach, a collection of single instances of fabric interactions or “soft triggers” that explicitly interpret fabric related actions as inputs were prototyped. These soft triggers were designed to essentially work with physical properties such as conductivity or shape of the other objects as a way of creating an immediate relation between the user, the soft trigger and their surroundings.

A copy of the thesis is available for download here.

A hands- on approach was taken in which sketching and prototyping were important steps for concept development. Learning to be proficient with construction and assisting tools was also an integral part of this investigative process.

More details about the different techniques used as well as various intermediatory findings and tutorials can be found in the project blog:


Shape sensing soft trigger from ramyah gowrishankar on Vimeo.

Scrolling soft trigger from ramyah gowrishankar on Vimeo.



The Music Sleeve

The Music Sleeve is a wearable controller for playing music on a Mobile Device. This knitted sleeve, which otherwise could act as a scarf, can be slung across one’s shoulders and made to function as a music controller by putting a handful of coins in it. This project was done as part of “Design and Irritation”, a research study led by Katharina Bredies fromthe Design Research Lab at the The Music sleeve presents a novel and interesting way to interact with other existing devices, in this case the music player. Made from soft materials and having unfamiliar form it is appealing and curious to start with. Being wireless helps one to move it around without constraints. Using only a few rules, the interaction is very logical and easy to grasp.Deutsche telekom Laboratories in Berlin.

The Sleeve can be rotated around the shoulder to freely move the coins inside.The Sleeve has four pull strings along its length dividing it in four equal sections. These strings can be pulled thus blocking the way of the coins inside or locking them in a particular section of the sleeve. Depending on the location of the coins inside the tube and the combination of strings pulled, different messages are sent to the music player in the phone. For example, rotating the sleeve downwards skips to the next track, locking the coins within half of the knitted sleeve by pulling the strings shuffles the playlist.