Project by Carmen Rebolledo, Camilo Vargas, Maria Camila Tarazona & Orlando Valencia, 2010
ECOLOGY, ELECTRONICS AND FASHION
3CO aims at creating a wearable accessory that reacts with color and brightness to air pollution around the user. The goal is to make people aware of harmful components present in the air of big cities such as Bogota and the negative effects it has on human health.
The project started as a mashup of fashion and technology. Our first idea was to create accessories like bracelets or pendants with embedded electronic circuits capable of reacting to different input such as excess light, smog or noise.
We then shifted into a more concrete health problem that we knew our native city, Bogotá, was affected by : atmospheric pollution. With old buses, trucks and cars – some dating back to the 1960’s and 1970’s – with very inefficient and heavy combustion engines, pollution in the capital was, and still is, a real issue.
The lack of information and population awareness also struck us, so we decided to deapen our knowledge about the different types of atmospheric pollutants and create a wearable device (scarf / hoodie) that could heighten awareness on this subject. We wanted to make visible the invisible.
Out of the very big list of air pollutants including particles, methane, ground level ozone and the different sulfur, nitrogen and carbon oxides, we selected three of the most harmful and most representative polluting gases in urban areas.
Nitrogen Dioxide, which form from combustion in trucks and buses, is highly reactive and highly toxic. It also gives the distinct reddish color to smog. Sulfur Dioxide, which forms from combustion and industrial sites, is highly toxic and is also the precursor of acid rain. Carbon Monoxide, which form from incomplete combustion, is odorless and colorless, can be very harmful at small doses and lethal above a certain concentration.
Oxygen levels, on a more positive side, were chosen to balance the information given by our device. The levels of each of the gases was displayed on the device with colored LEDs, one color for each type of gas : red for CO, orange for SO2, yellow for NO2, and white for O2.
sketching and prototyping
We had several iterations designing the accessory, starting with sketches of the shapes and the different textile patterns, but also testing the circuits, the sensors, and the embedding of these on the scarf.
We also tested several types of textiles, with varying results. Some created to much static electricity which would conflict with the electronic threads sewn onto the fabric, others were not adapted to the rainy weather of Bogotá.
The final hoodie/scarf had three layers of fabric, the circuit was sewn on the middle one. Cloud pattern were drawn on the outer fabric, underwhich the different colored LEDs could shine depending on the levels of the different gases.
A website was available, showcasing the project and explaining the problems of smog pollution in big cities such as Bogotá.
You can view the project on the website of the Universidad de los Andes here.