We added flavour to the connected kitchen.

Stirring, whisking, kneading and rolling. Cooking is fun and messy and best done to your favourite tunes. But changing music with soiled hands just gets your devices dirty. To solve this problem, our team in London turned to e-textiles, conductive thread, interactive fabrics, LED lights and stitched Spotify functionality into an apron. 

Introducing the DJ Apron.

How did we do it? As with any development process, it’s all about breaking down the tasks. So from a single mockup in a slide deck, we set about creating a prototype that started with the Arduino Uno micro controller. It's a real work horse for this type of project and very easy to work with. Although it was larger than we would require for the final prototype, the code would be portable to a smaller board. Ideally, a BLE-enabled Arduino board would have made life simpler, but they were found to be in short supply. So we took an off-the-shelf Bluetooth controller and hacked it, allowing the Arduino to trigger play/pause, fast forward/rewind via capacitive touch.

The apron's user experience is key.

Push buttons were quickly deprecated and e-textiles settled upon. So instead of pressing, a user simply taps their finger on the apron itself to control the music. Conductive thread was stitched to form the universally recognised symbols for play/pause and fast forward/rewind. We're also thinking about other ways to improve the experience, including:

  • Volume that's controlled with the slide of a finger on the apron;
  • Controls that let you favourite tracks to have them added to your library;
  • Audio and visual feedback including notifications and illuminated controls.

What's next? Tell us about an experience you'd like to improve; we're always looking for ways to get hands-on with technology.

Martin Hollywood (@thatHollywood) is Lead Creative Technologist at Razorfish, based out of our London office.