Ada Lovelace Day was established last year as an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. If you’re not already familiar with Lady Ada, it’s worth learning more… The daughter of Lord Byron, she worked with Charles Babbage on his analytical engine and wrote the world’s first computer program.
In honor of Lady Ada, I’d like to highlight a handful of the women who inspire me in the world of wearable electronics and soft circuitry.
Director of the High-Low Tech research group at the MIT Media Lab, Leah developed the Lilypad Arduino – the microcontroller boards I’ve been using in my own wearable electronics experimentation. It’s a dream of mine to someday be involved with her lab – they come up with incredible, innovative, and beautiful things there!
One of the graduate research assistants in Leah Buechley’s lab, Hannah has developed some incredible resources for others interested in wearable electronics, including the reference site HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT (with Mika Satomi) and a bunch of Instructables.
You may recognize Diana’s name from her stint on Project Runway a couple of years ago. She’s still going strong with wearable technology - most recently authoring Fashion Geek and creating Fairytale Fashion, a collection with electronics and shape-changing garments which integrated feedback from the public through her website during the design process. For extra geek points, she also covers ham radio for Make magazine!
Syuzi wrote Fashioning Technology, the first book that I picked up on the subject of soft circuitry, and runs a community by the same name. Syuzi is great about encouraging more people to experiment in the field – the Fashioning Tech community is very welcoming, and she regularly shares the projects that members blog about there.
Alison is the founder of SWITCH and author of SwitchCraft. She also teaches at the Parsons School of Design, and brings a more high-fashion perspective to her work. I was incredibly flattered when she recently featured my Skirt Full of Stars on SWITCH.
Becky may have done more to spread the word of DIY soft circuitry than anyone else. As Associate Editor at MAKE and CRAFT, she frequently shares wearable tech projects and has produced a couple of CRAFT videos about wearables. She also teaches soft circuit workshops (I had to miss the one at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle last summer because I didn’t have anyone else working my booth), and sells soft circuit starter kits through her company, Sternlab.
‘Textile Enchantress’ Lynne makes absolutely stunning garments that frequently involve things like electronics or UV-reactive materials. She has also generously shared quite a few instructables of soft circuitry techniques. I’m particularly fascinated by the work she’s been doing using smart fashion to assist impaired individuals – like this sonar garment for the visually impaired.
Creator of the blog Soft Circuit Saturdays, Angela is another maker who has been diving deeply into wearable electronics. I love seeing what another dedicated explorer who is not a professional in the field comes up with!