Imagine: You're walking down the street at night. You turn a corner, and suddenly, coming your way, you see someone with "Avatar" playing on their jacket.
It's a futuristic notion, but according to the folks at open-source hardware maker Adafruit Industries, it's one that's just months away.
That's because Adafruit has just unveiled Flora, its brand-new Arduino and Arduino-compatible wearable electronics platform. Designed to give anyone the ability to craft a matrix of up to hundreds or someday, more than 1,000 small LED "pixels," Flora is meant to make it possible to easily craft custom wearable multi-LED pixel designs perfect for art events like Burning Man, or even the streets of whatever town you live in.
For now, Flora is in its testing stages, and currently, it can support a limit of about 500 linked pixels. And of course, many people will choose to start with many fewer pixels than that. The system starts with the 1.75-inch diameter Flora board, and from there, you can add RGB LEDs as you see fit. The package will come with stainless steel thread.
According to a Flora FAQ, it "has built-in USB support [meaning] you plug it in to program it [and] it just shows up." It works with Mac, Windows, and Linux, and there's also USB HID support, "so it can act like a mouse, keyboard, MIDI, etc. to attach directly to cell phones."
Adafruit is currently developing Flora apps for the iPhone and iPad and Android. And its modules include GPS, Bluetooth, a 3-axis accelerometer, a compass, a flex sensor, piezo, infrared LED, a push button, an embroidered and capacitive keyboard, OLED, and more, the company says. As well, the system is designed to be fabric-friendly so that it doesn't tear clothing.