I have had a long standing relationship with CoRE, Centre for Robotics Research at Kings College London. There has been three parts to this relationship

  • The Craft Council’s Parallel Practices where I collaborated with Matthew Howard in investigating the potential for machine embroidered e-textile sensors to pick up electrical muscle activity.

  • ‘All the things you are not yet’ where I created a series of ‘Singing Quilts’ which contained embroidered speakers and circuits. They explored issues around IVF, one of which was displayed at The Utopia Festival at Somerset House

  • An EPSRC GCRF project the Matthew Howard and Samuel Pitou to investigate the potential of hand sewn e-textile muscle sensors as a reusable and lower cost alternative to mass produced sensors.

When you move a muscle in your body electrical impulses, electromyopthy, can be measured on the surface of the skin (sEMG). These research projects were provide proof of concept and then to compare the results for hand embroidered sEMGs alongside machine stitched and mass produced single use stick on sensors. The rationale was that because they are on a fabric substrate they are more comfortable and there is potential for laundering and therefore re-use which may be a cheaper and more sustainable.   Because a hand sewn sensor does not need expensive equipment and relies on straight forward sewing techniques there is also the potential for them to be made by Community Interest Companies (CIC) within the populations of the low income countries where they might be used.

I ran a series of workshops with the women’s group Shelanu in Birmingham and at the Science Gallery in London to help test this hypothesis. Participants were asked to sew and test a given number of sensors and these were then laboratory tested later.

A paper on this project has been published in the MDPI Journal Sensors. You can read about it here https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/20/12/3347

Want to know what the point is? This short film shows embroidered sEMGs picking up electrical impulses on the skin to drive a robotic limb


This gives some background to the Singing quilts
All the things you are not yet: A textile artwork | King’s Culture | King’s College London (kcl.ac.uk)