Although "design thinking" might be a term that has just about reached saturation point for most students and professionals, the recent influx of literal interest in brainwave and thought related design projects is undeniable. A few weeks ago we profiled the Melon Headband and app for tracking brain activity and focus and now we flip over to the other end of the spectrum with the Knitic NeuroKnitting machine.
Knitic is the collaborative project of artistic duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet, a pair who have existed in the fine line between art and tech since 2009. Their Arduino-hacked knitting machine records brain states via an EEG headset to be converted into a knitting pattern for a scarf. The wearer's activity measurements of level of relaxation, excitement and cognitive load while listening to Bach's "Goldberg Variations." The resulting data yields a stiching pattern, which—in addition to being a great garment for chillier climates—also captures visually the unique act of listening. The team chose to bypass the electronic control of the Brother brand 930 knitting machine models opting for real-time control and modification of patterns by putting in their own arduino control system.
So how did grandma's favorite pastime and a bunch of arduino geeks get together in the first place? We came a cross with an electronic knitting machine through our art project named SPAMpoetry. In the beginning of 2012 we have purchased obsolete Brother knitting machine originating from 1980s in order to hack the uploading system and knit poems from SPAM. Our work on modification of 930 and 940 machines can be seen here and as well tutorial of patternUploader software. The project was developed during artist in residency at MU gallery in Eindhoven and STPLN in Malmo. The research on reverse engineering of knitting machine made us realize that the electronic knitting machine was the first digital manufacturing tool at home. And what is more, in the age of digital fabrication the textile manufacturing has been overlooked. Therefore, our goal is to develop Knitic as open hardware and integrate it to the field of digital fabrication."
A novel idea for sure, we are excited to see further developments in the realm of digital fabrication for textiles. Knitic is on the right track with a merger of traditional textile fabrication with a digital twist, especially in a sea of 3D printing and CNC technologies.