The materials chosen took research, testing and of course had to be available or within budget. I also strove to find materials with as much evidence as to their properties and testing as possible. Not all materials were well described, one in particular was described as a ‘thread’ and after some convincing the company sent me some samples, the material that arrived was a hard wire, though bendable not a useable material as a subtle heating element for fingers at all.
Another material, which I managed to obtain a sample of, offered even more than I expected, with the right circuit connections the thin, fine material could not only detect temperature but also warm up creating a thermal map of an area. This would be an ideal layer to the glove concept however the cost of further material and time testing and forming the thermal map would be great in finance and time. When I found this I knew not only would I be forming a concept and a prototype but my research would also form the outline of the optimum item. This could then be taken on as further research beyond the course and developed into a product, providing the concept was accepted and understood and that tests confirmed the advantages to be great enough to warrant its development.
The glove prototype would therefore have to evenly as possible warm the fingers and the technology would have to be simple to understand and alter details such as temperature sensed at which the glove reacts. This way the prototype would be able to most accurately prove the concept in medical advantage. However this is not the only concern, the glove also needs to be practical as well as aesthetic and these are 2 very important factors.
Part of the aesthetic comes in as with medical conditions we have a culture of Dr. patent confidentiality and I don’t see why this shouldn’t extend to any medical related clothing, therefore the glove should look like any other glove or not give away any of its medical intentions. This then leaves passing the knowledge on up to the wearer, although if the wearer were to shake someone’s hand whilst the glove is warm it may lead to questions, even then no medical condition could be mentioned just the fondness of warm hands.
The glove should also be desirable as an item to own from its looks, many medically related devices are perceived as clinical looking and cold, this should seem attractive and trustworthy so that the looks would not put off anyone who could benefit from the function. Also there are already gloves with a heat source within, these are large and chunky. During my case study my subject showed me what the NHS had given them, the glove was a designed for skiers and very chunky. As the subject is most affected at work these were unhelpful as the subject when wearing them would be unable to type. A this design aspect here is key, as long as the glove is fitted, preferable stretchy to an extent, the user would be able to conduct many day to day tasks whilst wearing them.
To surmise, to fully test the concept the prototype must show fitted fingered gloves for functionality, an aesthetically pleasing design with discretionary technology so the wearers able to access but not necessarily have on show and operate accurately.
The initial prototype showed that it is possible to monitor the temperature
This gave me the opportunity to further the project with a positive result, knowing the temperature sensing works gave me the opportunity to focus on materials and pin pointing the concept and how the project will communicate this to the public and to those with a more academic interest. (Explaining things simply for anyone to understand or explaining the work in more detail to get more detailed points made clearly.)
I then researched various materials for the main glove to see if there’s any particularly good material or blend for flexibility and maximum movement of hands as well as keeping warm for the thickness. Often if a particular material works its used widely for that application, and in keeping warm wool is one of the best materials for a thin, yet flexible and fitted glove outcome. This lead to what would work with the wool, the researched pointed towards gloves recommended for Raynaud’s as similarly with wool there are basic materials that have been used and trusted and more recently put to scientific testing to give further evidence as to why the material is good.
From here I began researching warming methods that could be utilized on a glove and in ways that benefit Raynaud’s sufferers. This took a lot of research, as I want to be careful not to burn anyone and to work in the concept. As this piece has a direct interaction to the wearer I would like it to be as safe as possible.
Heating element wise out of about 50 companies I contacted by phone and email that in some way advertised around 5-10 got back to me in some way, 1 offered samples, 1 I was able to get a sample from after multiple emails over a month or so, most of the companies were un able to send anything or described the item in enough detail so I could work out that it was not the right material.
After testing would I could get a hold of the main 2 one was not as described and one although would be very good would also be very complex, able to sense temperature and heat up within the fine mesh.
Eventually I went back to a warm clothing company I had come across to try find something more specific, however after searching all I was able to find would be a special order and very expensive, so for the purpose of this concept to out put a prototype to show the points listed above I purchased an item sold by the warming clothing company and unravelled the relevant section to be able to show a working piece and conduct user tests. I have since spoken to more experienced people in the field of technology and textiles and they agreed that it is the best way to go as when it comes to making the product its self you would have your own, in this case ‘thread’ made.
Collaborations happen very often, I have found that if I talk to others in the Culture Lab about any problem I am having eventually there’s a chance I will meet someone able to help me. The main people who have been helping me have gone through various codes or physics with me, explained how this works and made suggestions. In the case of my glove code I have had direct help from several people who have typed parts in and pointed out issues. For example I forgot to add a safety feature to the glove code and circuit so that if the battery was dead or the sensors didn’t work for any reason the glove would inform the wearer rather than the wearer believing the glove is looking after them when it is not.
As I am less confident with code I get as much advice and help as possible but each time the code is changed, I then spend time going through the code to make sure I know what each part is doing and have notes within the code just encase I forget what any one part does so if something needs altering I am able to alter it my self as easily as possible.