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Electronic Textile Interfaces
Can we use the fabric and embellishments that create the garments we wear to also operate and control the electronic devices we carry with us? Why hasn't technology found its way into our garments, which are both wearable and ubiquitous? What specific uses could shine as exemplary applications to validate the benefits of textile interfaces, and what hurdles do we need to overcome to help make textile interfaces useful alternatives? Georgia Tech’s contextual computing group is looking to answer these questions through workshops, user studies and prototype development.
While teaching textiles and fashion design studio classes at Savannah College of Art & Design, Zeagler realized his true passion lies in bridging the gap between the disciplines of design and Human Centered Computing. A diverse background in fashion, industrial design and textiles drives his research on electronic textiles and on-body interfaces with the Contextual Computing Group of the GVU center of Georgia Tech. As a Research Scientist I for the Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design he teaches courses on Wearable Product Design and an ID section of Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing (MUC). Zeagler enjoys working with corporations such as HP/Palm and Google to bring real world experience into the classroom. He recently acquired a Georgia Space Consortium grant to fund MUC student projects on wearable computing for space—a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate students. He is also a member of the NASA Wearable Technology Cluster a group of scientists and academics working together to give advice to those in NASA working on wearable computing or electronic textile projects. A deep understanding of the garment production process fosters innovation in his research. Zeagler’s company Pecan Pie Couture hand dyes, embroiders, and screen-prints textiles and garments. Building upon that skillset, his recent research led to the creation of the proprietary Electronic Textile Interface Swatch Book ESwatchBook in collaboration with Thad Starner. This innovative tool was made possible by an internal Georgia Tech grant that he co-authored with Thad Starner and Craig Forrest, which allowed GA Tech to purchase sewing and embroidery equipment for the GVU Prototyping Lab. The ESwatchBook is designed to help facilitate discussions between the skill and craft-based design disciplines (.i.e. fashion) and more technical disciplines (.i.e. computer science). To put the ESwatchBook’s capabilities to the test, he developed a series of workshops at multiple colleges with the purpose of bringing together designers with engineers / technology specialists. The workshops were funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, which he co-authored.