gLoves: a Christmas gift for nerds.

Introduction

The gLoves are an attempt at reparations with my partner after spending four years together in Abu Dhabi. The UAE is a wonderful place, but its social norms frown upon even mild PDA. To make up for the many years of lost handholding, and considering that we’re now both in a place with bitter winters, I thought I’d put together a Christmas gift that warms the heart as much as it warms the hands™.

Essentially the gLoves are some Neopixel LEDs strapped to gloves. The novelty is that each glove only glows when in the loving embrace of the corresponding other hand. The intention of the gLoves is obviously to be used as a couple, but I suppose that a pair could be used by an individual.

Conceptually, one hand is the ‘brain’ (microcontroller – an Arduino Gemma), and the other hand is the ‘brawn’ (the power supply). This setup ensures that the system will only work when the two hands are together. It is also fitting that my partner is so much smarter than I am.

 Process

The process of creating a gLove pair is an arduous one.  It became apparent very early on that sewing onto a glove is annoying, and any circuitry mistakes would cost hours to remedy. I had to make extra sure that the concept worked before implementing it onto the gloves.

Although my initial plan was to power the whole system with one large Lipo on the Brawny gLove, I found that the Gemma takes too long to power up when the connection is first made. Therefore, to improve response time when the hands come into contact, I added a small Lipo to the Brainy gLove to keep the Gemma powered on even when not in contact:

The Arduino code is simple, it’s basically a strand test that I modified to have a fade-out after each pixel has lit up. Find it here.

Once the proof of concept was breadboarded up, the real challenge was sewing the circuit onto the gLoves. This project is my first attempt at any kind of wearable and given the blood, sweat, and tears involved will likely be my last.

Right hand gLove; the Brains. Arduino Gemma with a small LiPo.
Left hand gLove; the ‘Brawn’. 1100mAh LiPo is hidden between the fabric layers.
Rings of conductive thread on thumb, middle, and little fingers of gLove. When fingers are interlocked with other gLove, the rings come into contact with the corresponding rings on the other hand

Going forward

Although I never want to touch another sewing needle again I do think it would be lovely to add a heart monitor to each of the gLoves. I didn’t have the resources or time to explore that option this time round, so the ‘pulse’ of the current gLoves is simply a steady 60bpm; a reminder to slow down, breathe, and relax.

I imagine that adding heartrate monitors so as to have the gLoves pulse with the users’ heartbeats would be rather nifty. And cute.

 

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