Canadian researchers weave ‘threads’ of Wi-Fi into fabric

May 10, 2022 - Canada

Canadian researchers have woven ‘threads’ of Wi-Fi into fabric as a way of pushing boundaries to further understand how technology impacts lives. A textile Wi-Fi antenna has been created by weaving a conductive material directly into a tapestry fabric. It was conceived as a way to understand human relationship with home routers and the Internet.

Doenja Oogjes, who recently completed her PhD in in the School of Interactive Art and Technology’s Everyday Design Studio, founded a decade ago by Simon Fraser University (SFU) professor Ron Wakkary, conducted research on the relationships between humans, things and the environment.

Oogjes created the first woven prototypes and the team is continuing to work on the project with Milou Voorwinden, a jacquard weaver at the Dutch-based EE Label, with other team-members including SFU student Henry Lin and Wakkary, a university press release said.

Another project, Wifi-no-Wifi, involves a play on the idea of the Internet-of-things (IoT). Oogjes worked with Pauline van Dongen, a fashion designer and postdoctoral researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology, to design a woven, flower-like object with an origami structure that pops open when it detects that there are no nearby wireless networks around it.

The work involved spending several sessions at Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s TARP Lab working with its TC2 jacquard loom.

The idea behind the piece is to understand how a person would care for it—either to actively open the object or to keep it closed.

The WiFi-no-WiFi project team also includes van Dongen and SFU students Henry Lin, Tiffany Wun and Mandeep Mangat and Wakkary.

Oogjes, who graduates in June, hopes to continue working in textile fabrication research and academia.