Meet The Feline Fit Scrunchie

Adventures in Prototyping with Fabric Construction

The Feline Fit Scrunchie is a hip new re-fur-esh on the standard fitness tracker offered through companies like Fitbit. But, instead of residing only the wrist, the Feline Fit Scrunchie gives you the option of wearing it in your hair as well as around your wrist. This is a purr-fect addition to your wardrobe that will help you reach your fitness goals in style!

DESIGN

The Feline Fit Scrunchie began as an idea to create a scrunchie that doubled as a fitness tracker that used LED lights to show user progress. The cat eye LEDs came to be simply based on the socks that I ended up using as my scrap fabric. There are two main features to the Feline Fit Scrunchie: it’s a fitness tracker and a fashion statement. As you can see in the diagram below, there are four visible LED that are connected to a battery (the removal and insertion of which is currently the only way to turn this prototype on and off); there are two yellow LEDs that represent the grey cats eyes and two green LEDs that represent the black cats eyes. Each pair of eyes doubles as an indicator for user progress towards a fitness goal. The user is allowed to set two fitness goals, because there are two different cats on the scrunchie to represent two different goals. If the user only has one fitness goal set, then both cat’s eyes will show the same color to represent the users progress on their single goal. If the user has no fitness goals set, both cat’s eyes will default to a scale that changes colors every 1000 steps, and tracks up to 10,000 steps of movement.

Labeled Diagram of the Feline Fit Scrunchie

PROTOTYPE

The Prototype for the Feline Fit was an arduous but fun process. With a lot of patience and about 10 broken needles I was able to create a fabric prototype with functional LED light eyes on all of the cats with open eyes in the original pattern. I made this scrunchie out of:

  • A pair of random knee high cat socks I found in my closet
  • Conductive Thread for the Battery and Light Circuit
  • Regular Thread for the regular seams
  • 4 metal snaps to act as positive and negative landing pads for both sets of cat eyes
  • Plastic watch battery holster to connect the LEDs and conductive thread
  • 2 LEDs in Yellow for the grey cat’s eyes
  • 2 LEDs in Green for the black cat’s eyes
  • A watch battery that I stole from one of my many light up Christmas sweaters
  • A hair tie cut into a straight line

I started the process of making the prototype by cutting up the old pair of cat knee high socks. I cut one sock up and it created four mid-sized panels which are a good size for a a scrunchie. After the panels had been cut, I started to assemble the circuit for the LED cat eyes.

I went through a few of iterations of the “wiring” for the conductive thread circuits before I was able to actually use the panel of fabric to create the scrunchie without the conductive thread crossing over each other, breaking the circuit. Instead of attaching the conductive thread directly to the positive and negative legs of the LED, I gave each cat a positive and negative connecting doc below and above the cat head on the back of the fabric scrap. This allowed for me to more easily to control my stitches of conductive thread so that the positive and negative charged cables don’t cross and short-circuit and turn the LEDs off.

Progress: Setting up the connection pads for the LEDs

Once the cat eyes had been connected to the battery with conductive thread on the front panel to be shown on the outside of the scrunchie. As I attempted to create a scrunchie out of this panel of sock fabric, it continually shorted out every time that I tried to fold the fabric panel in half and fastened it around the hair tie to complete the scrunchie. In order to keep the conductive thread connections from shorting out, I decided to insulate my circuitry with another layer of sock. So, the tube that made up the outside of the scrunchie was two fabric scraps thick. This made the scrunchy look a little but funky, and bulky.

View the demo video of the Feline Fit Scrunchie Prototype here:

Video Describing The Feline Fit Scrunchie Functionality

ANALYSIS

I attempted to put this very fragile Feline Fit Scrunchie prototype in my hair, and it was very ineffective. It wrapped around the hair, but it didn’t actually feel secure at all. If I had been moving even a little bit, not to mention run in any active athletic scenario, the scrunchie would fall out of the hair very, very quickly. Because there were two layers of sock fabric to insulate to keep the conductive thread from touching the opposite charge and short out the circuit. Thus, the scrunchie was bulkier than it normally would have been, which made it hard to use.

Feline Fit Scrunchie on a wrist showing the Grey Cat With Yellow LED Eyes

Not only was it ineffective as an actual scrunchie, but when I used it as a scrunchy, the LEDs actually came slightly disconnected if I moved it too much. This is because I had the legs of the LED bulbs wrapped around the metal clasps that I had been using as the connection pads in a slightly precarious way. In the future, I will use the conductive thread to further sew the legs of the LEDs to the connection landing pad in order to make it so that movement won’t jostle the connections to the point where the are no longer able to light up the LEDs.

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Student at University of Washington studying HCDE and Psychology

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Valerie Remaker

Valerie Remaker

Student at University of Washington studying HCDE and Psychology

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