Intel and MRM Meteorite, whom had lined up a fashion designer named Christian Joy, approached Hirsch & Mann with a question; could we design a wearable technology to elevate the performance of the indie rockers The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and showcase technical and wearable innovation for the Intel brand? Our response was the LED Jacket.
Designing with Christian, we identified the interaction opportunity and evolved her initial designs to create an acoustically responsive, LED-covered denim jacket for the live music performance.
In our first prototype we researched the latest advances in sound analysis, and then created algorithms to transform the audio signals into normalised data. We explored visual representation of these signals by mapping sound levels (amplitude) to brightness and musical notes (frequency) to individual LED addresses. The custom software ran on a Windows-based Intel Ultrabook and routed data to the LEDs through a USB to DMX converter and our Hirsch & Mann DMX Arduino shield.
In subsequent prototype iterations, we moved the power supply from the mains to a brick battery, ported the application to an Intel-based smartphone, and refined and extended the software functionality to include remote control of the LEDs. Working with a team of seamstresses, we iterated different designs for structural support armatures within the jacket including: exploring materials, pocket sleeves for electronics, and PCB wiring routes. We also experimented with the circuit board designs to create a shape that provided sewing of the PCB directly onto the jacket.
The final result was a simplified, integrated system of software and hardware, controllable via smartphone and embedded within a fashion object that highlights the Intel brand: especially, when combined with star power rock performances.