Weekly Blog

Week 10

In a whirlwind of getting everything done, the summer is over! This past week I created a video showcasing all of the tagging systems I put into clothes. I also wrote a presentation, which I gave at the Summer Undergraduate Research Festival on Wednesday, August 8th. This was the same festival that I created and presented a poster at.

Here are the slides from my presentation. The video I created followed these slides.

Tagging Systems to Assist Visually Impaired Users Identify Visual Data in Clothing.

And here is the video I created:


All in all, I’m really sad to be going home and leaving this project behind. I had a lot of fun working on it and learned a LOT. It was wonderful working with so many great people. I’m super excited to be continuing on with school and working on graduate school applications this fall!

Week 9

I can’t believe the summer is almost over! I guess it’s a good sign that I wish I were in grad school now so that I could keep going with my project. The RFID Reader kit arrived, so I was able to put it together and actually get it to scan RFID tags. The kit was a shield that just plugged into the top of the arduino. I used the adafruit tutorial to complete the reader and upload the software required for reading the tags.

Reader Kit Unpacked

Reader Kit Unpacked

Breakaway Headers

Breakaway Headers

Soldering the Headers

Soldering the Headers

Soldering Set Up

Soldering Set Up

All Soldered

All Soldered

Reader Assembled

Reader Assembled

Antenna with RFID Tag

Antenna with RFID Tag


And it works!

This week I also found out that I have been selected to present at the Summer Undergraduate Research Festival on campus next Wednesday. This means I will be giving a 8 minute talk about the project I have been working on this summer. So, I started working on my talk and a video that I will play during the presentation.

Week 8

This week I finished up putting tags into the clothes. I also did a lot of writing this week. I submitted two poster abstracts- one to the campus Research Festival and one to Grace Hopper. I also started a draft of the final paper for this project I have been working on all summer. Luckily, actually quite enjoy the writing process. I’ll be finding out this coming week if my poster abstracts were accepted. Next up: making a poster!

On Thursday, I went to the ADA Celebration on campus. We put some of our projects on display, including the clothe I have tagged. It was really great meeting people and talking a bit about the work we have been doing. We also heard speeches from Dr. Hrabowski and Governor O’Malley.

UMBC HCC Group at the ADA Celebration July 26, 2012

UMBC HCC Group at the ADA Celebration July 26, 2012

Me at the ADA Celebration

Me at the ADA Celebration

This coming week I’ll be working more on my paper and designing my poster. I hope the RFID reader parts come in, so that I can build the last system for the project. I’ll also be playing around with an NFC enabled tablet to see if I can get it to read the tags we have in the lab!


Week 7

There was a lot going on this last week, especially now as I am looking at deadlines for my poster abstracts and wrapping up for the summer.

We finally got our “smart closet” put together with shelving and all!

Smart Closet

A nice, organized closet space for our clothes that are going to be tagged.

We narrowed down our list of tagging systems that we want to prototype. We had a fashion hackathon on Tuesday to put together the website that will be part of our prototypes. For some of our systems, the user can look up a button shape or specific location to help remind them of what it identifies (color, how to wash, etc). In another web based system, the user can input a number that is written in braille on a tag inside the clothes to get all the information about it.

Fashion Hackathon

Fashion Hackathon

3 Braille Tags in Puff Paint

Ribbon with Braille in Puff Paint



Star Button Tag in Shirt

This star represent certain information about this shirt.







I also built some prototypes with a more high-tech solution. One uses the QR code iron-on to the clothes. A second solution is the RFID tag with reader.I am still waiting on the parts for the reader before I can prototype this system.

Row of QR Codes

QR Codes ready to be printed.

On Wednesday, I went to the Summer Horizons grad school information session on campus. The information presented was phenomenal. They went over the timelines, keys to admissions (GRE Scores, Letters of Recommendation, and the Statement of Purpose), and what life is like as a grad student. There was a panel of grad students that answered questions about their own application process and what their lives are like now. To finish everything off, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski gave a great keynote speech. I wish I had recorded it, but I was too busy watching!

One of the things Dr. Hrabowski said was the following quote, which really stuck with me: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
- Lao Tzu

I’m glad I attended this information session, even though it wasn’t strictly a part of the internship I am doing. It helped me to really start exploring the reasons I want to go to grad school and how to organize my thoughts so I can get my applications together.

Wednesday afternoon, summer students from the Maryland School for the Blind came to visit UMBC. As part of their visit, the HCC department gave them some information about the research they do here on campus. Michele and I got to informally talk with some of the students about my project that I have been working on this summer. Some of them were really excited about the idea of just scanning clothes and getting the information about them. One student wanted to know when they would be able to buy the system. It’s really nice getting such positive feedback about the work I have been doing.

This coming week I will be writing abstracts for my research posters. I will be finishing up my prototypes, which will probably take the bulk of my time. I’m down to sewing in buttons and ribbons. As soon as we have IRB approval, we will be able to take our clothes to users to see what they think of our prototypes!

Week 6

This week I worked with Amy and Michele to redevelop my project scope for the rest of the summer. In addition to RFID tags and readers for clothing, I am going to help brainstorm other ways someone could tag their clothing. I spent the first part of the week looking up how people are currently keeping track of their clothes.

I then decided on some different ways to tag clothes. Some ideas were buttons, safety pins, QR codes inside the clothes, and RFID tags. I then went on a shopping trip with Michele to stock our closet and get supplies for our prototype systems. At the end of the week I started prototyping some tags.

Sample Tag

I also spent some time with Amy looking forward to see where this research is headed. I’ve started thinking about what I will be doing after this summer is over and applying to graduate school. This experience hasn’t gotten me excited about keeping the momentum I have here going.

Week 5

This week was a short week because of the July 4th holiday. I spent the week refining my project. I put together a list of supplies I would need to build an NFC reader and the tags to put into clothing. Sadly, a lot of the online stores did not have the components in stock.

In the meantime, I examined an already built RFID reader that was made by another graduate student last spring.

RFID Reader

RFID Reader Innards

It was great to be able to see how someone else put a system together with different components. This system used a battery, an Arduino Pro Mini, a bluetooth controller, and a RFID antenna mounted on the outside of the box.


I also helped in the production of a tutorial video. The video is for people who will be participating in a study using an iPhone app called VizWiz. Learning how to make a video was a lot of fun. My main role was narration, which was a new experience for me.


Week 4

I cannot believe how quickly this internship is going by! The first month is already over! June ended with a severe thunderstorm that left my apartment building without power from 11pm to noon the next day. The weather certainly is a lot bigger here than in the Pacific Northwest.

Last week, I endeavored to play with my Arduino Uno some more. I followed through the tutorials first. This mostly consisted of hooking up LEDs and getting them to do different things (blink and so forth). It doesn’t sound very exciting, but trust me, it is. Here are some pictures from the tutorials:

1 LED and Arduino

This was with one LED hooked up. 


3 LEDs

These LEDs were flashing at different rates thanks to the program I wrote.

LED and Push Button

The culmination of the tutorials was to have the LED be controlled by a push button.

After I was feeling fairly confident about working with the tutorial, I moved on to the LCD Screen Kit, kindly provided by Amy. I was able to get it all soldered together. And I had it working with the program at first, but then something went wrong and I’m still working on getting it fixed. It’s taking the input from the computer and garbling it, as you will see in the pictures.

LCD Screen Kit Parts

All the parts to be soldered together in the LCD Screen Kit.

Soldered back of the LCD Screen Kit.

Soldered back of the LCD Screen Kit.

LCD Screen Back

LCD Screen Back

LCD Screen Kit Front

LCD Screen Kit Front

LCD Message Garbled

LCD Message Garbled

There is a bit more work to do figuring out how to ungarble the message. This week I’ll be turning my attention to RFID and NFC scanners and tags.

Week 3

I spent a lot of this week playing with my arduino kit and researching the things we might use with it. I began compiling lists of shields that will attach to the arduino to add functioning. I also looked up tutorials for putting together an LCD kit from Sparkfun.

In my researching, I found a pretty cool blog: Fashioning Tech. It’s fun to go through the articles and see what interesting other people around the world have been doing with fashion and tech. Some of the projects are really quite beautiful. For instance, this article about lace that reads poetry is fascinating.

I think the highlight of the week was learning how to solder from Amy. I’m going to be using it to put circuits and wiring together, but it’s one of those things that is just good to know for life. (My dad is very excited that I can now help him with home repairs.)

Soldered Wire

My very first soldered wire.

This coming week, Michele will be back from her conferences in the UK and we will be sitting down on Monday to narrow my project down for the summer. I’m really looking forward to hearing about everything she learned at the conferences!

Week 2

I can’t believe another week has already gone by! I guess that’s what happens when you keep yourself busy. Monday we had our first “Fashion Project” meeting. We discussed what each of us is working on and plans for the future. I am working on this project with Michele, the PhD student, Amy, my advisor, and Jeffrey, another undergraduate.

My main task this week was to study up on the arduino and when the kit arrived to start playing with it. Below are some pictures of the unveiling of my arduino kit when it arrived.

Arduino Kit

Unwrapped Arduino Kit

So many pieces.

Packaging of Arduino "We Love Open Source"

I love the packaging that says “We Love Open Source”.

The Arduino Uno

It’s so little!


Tuesday was an all-hands meeting. It was nice to be able to meet everyone else in the lab and see what projects they are working on. It’s also a nice place to get help and coordinate on skills.

Wednesday I volunteered at the NCIL Conference in Washington, D.C. at the Grand Hyatt. I was there to help assist in the e-voting that was taking place for NCIL’s board. The e-voting system was being run by a group from Clemson and is meant to be accessible to everyone. There is an article about it on Clemson’s website, if you’re interested in learning more about it.

This coming week I plan on taking the plunge and getting my arduino to run with my laptop. I have all the software installed, I just need to load the sketches and go. Hopefully, I’ll have some success to report on that front next week.

Week 1

It’s amazing to me how quickly a week can go by! I have settled in to my living arrangements and even ventured forth a bit over the weekend to check out a local yarn shop. The weather is proving the most difficult thing to get used to, since I’m from Vancouver, WA- it’s 20+ degrees warmer here and much more humid.

This past week, I narrowed down my project, so I have an idea of what I will be working on now. I’ve decided to try my hand at learning the hardware aspects of Arduino, even though my previous electronics experience is limited. The project I’ll be working on is Making Fashion Accessible. You can read more about it on Michele’s website. She’s the PhD student that I will be working closely with, as the overall project is hers. I really liked the idea of working on a project in accessibility. My role will be working on the scanners or smart tags that could be implemented in clothing to make their information ‘readable’ by a smart phone.

This week my goal is to learn as much as I can about Arduino and fashion and technology. Michele is going to a conference on Wearable Computing next week, so when she gets back, the real work on the project can start. I have until then to learn about electronics and wearable hardware.

Even though it’s only been one week, I can already safely say that I am really glad I have had the opportunity to do this this summer. I have learned a lot about grad school in the last week and I am more certain than ever that this is what I would like to do next year. I am super excited to be working with such meaningful research!

Week 0

This is just a short post to get this weekly blog started. I arrived safely in Baltimore over the weekend and successfully moved into the student housing on campus.

My goals for this week are to get an idea of the project I’ll be working on over the summer, to explore the campus and area a little bit, and to get my website functioning. After meeting with my mentor, Amy, yesterday, it sounds like there are lots of cool projects going on in the Human-Centered Computing department here. Now my big job is to narrow down my focus to just one thing I would like to work on!

I’ll have more to report this coming weekend when I do my Week 1 blog post. Until then!