More than Human Centred Design


Monarch V2: An Iterative Design Approach to Prototyping a Wearable Electronics Project

  • Kate Hartman, OCAD University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Boris Kourtoukov, Social Body Lab, OCAD University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Izzie Colpitts-Campbell, Social Body Lab, OCAD University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Erin Lewis, The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden
  • Corresponding email(s): khartman@faculty.ocadu.ca
  • Project webpage
  • Research group webpage
  • ACM DL Link: Associated Paper or Pictorial

Monarch is a wearable electronics prototype that enables the wearer to amplify or extend body language through the use of a muscle-activated kinetic textile for the purpose of augmented social interaction. This pictorial details the second prototype stage with a focus on addressing the wearability, technical, and production challenges resulting from the first prototype. The purpose of these improvements is to enable a small batch production of the prototype for further testing in daily life. Design decisions are brought to the foreground for observation and reflection, including those surrounding material choices and production methods. The result is a detailed visual account of the generative and evaluative discoveries as well as a contribution of several recommendations that can be applied to small batch production of wearable electronic prototypes in a research lab context.

Who is the target audience and why design for them? The research conducted here speaks to other researchers working in the area of kinetic, social, and expressive wearables. The documentation of the design and prototyping decisions as well as resulting recommendations are offered as a case study contribution for other researchers aiming to develop small batch productions of wearable electronic research artifacts for testing in an everyday context.

What were the challenges or limitations encountered in this project? This project addresses the following challenges resulting from the V1 design: • To select a lighter, thinner, and more reliable servo motor • To develop a more efficient production process for the pleated textile interior of the wings • To allow for personal customization of wing and leather colors • To design and develop a more robust and reliable circuit • To move the main circuit to a more comfortable location so as to improve weight distribution • To prioritize the use of digital fabrication tools and practices where possible to improve efficiency in the production of multiple units

What are the opportunities and next steps for this project? This iterative design process yielded six functionally-identical units of the Monarch V2 design that are well-equipped for durational testing in the context of daily life. Through future testing the aim will be to experience and observe the resulting social interactions, augmented body language, and new forms of expression that emerge through the use of this social and expressive kinetic wearable prototype.