This is the information age. We as a society consume information at a faster rate than at any other time in known history, and it’s become kind of a chicken-or-egg scenario: which came first, the demand for information or the supply? Either way, devices that deliver information quickly, easily and in bite-sized packets are seizing the markets by storm, especially when they serve a dual purpose as a public statement. One such device is MeU, a wearable LED display that attaches to fabric and displays your custom information through your clothes. I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Tu, founder of MeU, at his office in Toronto, where he demoed MeU and gave me the inside scoop.
Beginning as a graphic design project at OCAD University, MeU was originally conceptualized as a way to distribute urban informatics in a social way by displaying real time data about the world around the wearer to those in the immediate vicinity. Inspired by the popular transit apps that tell users when the next vehicle is scheduled to arrive, one of MeU’s early applications was to display that information in real time on the back of the wearer’s shirt.
As you can see, the original LEDs were sewn directly into the fabric, limiting the versatility of MeU. After further iterations and tech tweaks the product has evolved into a full panel that can be inserted into most pieces of clothing with a velcro strip. Protected by sweat-wicking cloth on one side and clear plastic on the other, the panels and hidden lilypad Arduino (the brain of the device) are safe from moisture and the elements.
MeU is fully programmable through the partner iOS and Android apps, and is appropriate for many uses, including fashion,
I asked Robert to make me a shirt with my logo on it, and the results are pretty awesome! It was very quick too, the whole process took five minutes. He downloaded the image, converted it to the 16×16 pixel size and uploaded it via the app to the shirt!
Today marks the official launch of MeU’s Indiegogo campaign, crowdfunding and providing makers/arduino fans/DIYers with the first chance to buy the MeU Square and dev kit! Robert and his team are calling all makers, developers, hackers, Arduino fans, and DIYer’s, to join the MeU community by contributing to the campaign and sharing their creations online at the hashtag #meuleds. You can also follow their crowdfunding and creation journey on the MeU Facebook page or by following @the_MeU_LED on Twitter!