Prototype under construction
Iterative design in Arduino Neopixel controller design
Two completed prototypes standing on manniquinns.
What it does
FEST Wear in its present form consists of two hoodies, a backpack, and a crop top, all featuring mesh network connected raspberry pi zero microcomputers and arduino controlled neopixel lighting. It allows for peer to peer data sharing, unique light actuation based on social presence (when near others wearing FEST apparel). It is accompanied by an app that features mesh network based chat, contact sharing, and data sharing. Additionally, FEST's lighting system can be influenced by a variety of interchangeable sensors, such as sound or temperature. The idea of thousands of people dancing at a concert wearing visual EQs for clothes excited us.
How we built it
The base model for FEST was a grey hoodie our team had lying around from an old Amazon.com order. We thought it would be interesting to wire it with neopixels, and give it some extra functionallity. To accomplish this, I built a series of batteries using recycled laptop 18650 batteries and arduino circuits using Attiny digispark micro control boards. However, Attinies have limited utility owing to their minute memory. We decided that it would be better to have a raspberry pi controlling the Attiny directly. From there, we thought about what if we could connect one to another. Thus, FEST was born.
Challenges we ran into
Nothing ever works when and how you want it to. Rule one of hacking. We ran into a myriad of issues in the construction of FEST, ranging from voltage drops and short circuits in the control platform to driver issues and kernel panics in the Raspberry pi. We did not initially account for our lack of dual channel wifi cards, instead having dual band, leaving us to have to scramble to create a new way to pull up an impromptu mesh network.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Nothing makes a programmer yell louder and with more joy than finally getting something to work after many hours of it decidedly doing everything it can to not work, even if it means just fixing a typo in your code. Our proudest achievements revolved around beating our own odds. If we set a stretch goal (like making a workable app) that we hadn't even planned on coming into the hackathon, we were over the moon when we eventually got it to run properly.
What we learned
You can't win every battle, nothing ever works as intended. No matter how well prepared we were, or thought we could be, life, and hackathons, are unpredictable. We consistently had to find alternate routes to our goals, as we had hit some kind of insurmountable roadblock (such as not packing a screen for the aforementioned raspberry pis...)
What's next for FEST Wear
Marketability. Already walking around with a prototype FEST, people have inquired how much it would cost to obtain one for themselves. Perhaps it would be worth constructing a few more and selling them for profit.