Project Brookdale

Project Brookdale

Established: May 2, 2019

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Overview

A simple platform for smart wearables design

Fashion, clothing, and wearables are a new frontier in technology. Project Brookdale is a set of technologies designed to enable fashion designers to embed smart technology within their designs, without having to know a lot about technology.

Project Brookdale makes it easy for anyone to prototype, create, and explore wearable technology and fashion technology garments. It combines plug-and-play modular hardware with drag-and-drop programming to enable designers to create wearables that include sensors and functions. For example, a sensor embedded in a shirt could identify cold temperature, and then make the shirt warmer.

Project Brookdale: photo of phone app showing placement of circuits on fabric
Project Brookdale: photo of a woman's hands plugging in the circuits woven into garment

 

Because most fashion designers are not also technologists, they need tools that let them easily express their ideas and innovations. Project Brookdale is one step toward a future where technical literacy is not a barrier to exploring the opportunities inherent in wearables and fashion-tech garments.

The genesis

Project Brookdale is an evolution of a partnership with the BKLYN Fashion Academy, to create a wearable-tech fashion show. By observing designers as they created fashions for the runway, the researchers from the Microsoft Research Smart Tattoo and MakeCode teams were able to identify key technologies that would help them in the creation process.

Project Brookdale: photo of sketchbook showing placement of Smart Tattoos
Project Brookdale: photo of a dress sketched with placement of circuit and beads

Connected microcontrollers and MakeCode are the heart of the system

The hardware includes plug-and-play microcontrollers, called Beads, which use different sensors as input, such as temperature, color, or location. These Beads connect with a program, created in MakeCode, that detects the different Beads and can trigger different types of output based on input. For example, if a Bead in the garment detects a specific motion, it would tell the garment to change color. Each of these components connect via the familiar audio-jack connector.

Project Brookdale: photo of sketch book showing where lights will be place on garment
Project Brookdale: photo of a woman's hands sewing accessories onto a woven garment

 

Project Brookdale draws upon technology from several projects:

  1. Project Alava, a new project for programming webs/networks of microcontrollers (built using Microsoft MakeCode) that introduces a set of hardware components (the Beads) and JACDAC, a communications protocol that enables the plug-and-play functionality of the different Beads;
  2. Smart Tattoos, which link into the ecosystem with a custom Tattoo Bead.

With Project Brookdale, the fashion industry has tools to create wearable technology and it can continue to innovate the clothing of the future.

Learn more

Check out the MakeCode software platform here. Please contact us and share how you’re using MakeCode to explore the world of wearables.

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