New low-tech tools harnessing conductive ink and fabric are inspiring amateur engineers to experiment with electronics in their homes.
Circuit Scribe is a rollerball pen that writes with conductive ink, allowing circuits to be created in a matter of minutes. The pen has raised almost $550,000 on crowdfunding website Kickstarter – more than five times its original goal of $85,000. “We wanted to make building circuits as simple as doodling on a piece of paper,” said its creator, Illinois-based start-up Electroninks. Simple circuits can be created with the help of a coin battery, paperclip and LED.
Circuit Stickers are peel-and-stick electronic tools that create circuits on any sticker-friendly surface, developed by Chibitronics – a research collaboration based in Singapore.
There are four types of stickers that enable users to build a customised circuit:
- LED stickers
- Effects stickers – enabling the LEDs to blink, fade and twinkle
- Sensor stickers – such as a light sensor or microphone
- Microcontroller stickers.
"I hope that after making something with circuit stickers, people will feel like circuits can be just another art and craft material, like paint and canvas. Except now, in addition to colours, we can tell our stories with light, sensing and interactions," Jie Qi, co-founder of Chibitronics, told tech publication Wired.
As interest in coding culture heightens, consumers are beginning to shift from a consumer-creator mindset to one of consumer-inventor. Products that encourage adaption or customisation are proliferating, and may prove equally successful in at-home experiments and more formal education environments. For more, see Everyone’s an Engineer, part of the Thinking Digitally Industry Trend.