A FLORA baseball cap to track travel destinations and a FLORA-powered compass sleeve are two of the eight wearable electronics finalists in element 14’s Get Closer Challenge.

“Get Closer” is encouraging design engineers and hobbyists alike to design a wearable project, using the Adafruit FLORA platform, and document their progress on the element14 Community.

From now through to mid-September, competitors will develop their suggested creations and document their progress through blog posts, videos and designs, which will be shared on the Arduino group within the element14 Community.

“We were thrilled with the response during the enrollment period and are looking forward to the results of the Get Closer Challenge,” said Global Head of Community Dianne Kibbey. “We’re excited to see what the finalists develop and how these ideas spark new ones.”

Adafruit Director of Wearable Electronics Becky Stern added, “Our participation in the ‘Get Closer’ Challenge has provided great opportunities to engage with makers, and we can’t wait to see the finalists bring their fun, unique project suggestions to life.”

First-generation wearables such as the Pebble watch and Google Glass have paved the way, and the FLORA provides a more accessible way for anyone to start creating their own wearable technology products. Clothing that can recognise and relay the user’s location, environment or status will allow a wide variety of new industrial applications and personal well-being solutions.

The Challenge will also be covered weekly on the new, live Wearable Electronics Show with Becky Stern from Adafruit. Each week, the programme will delve into the world of wearables and answer viewer questions, announce a discount code for the Adafruit store and explore wearable components, techniques, special materials and home projects. The show appears on YouTube every Wednesday at 7pm BST.

Winners of the Challenge, who will be announced on September 20 will receive a prize of one Arduino Robot and a handmade wearable electronics project by Adafruit. The finalists are:
• Katie Dumont (UK) – FLORA-powered compass sleeve
• Leslie Birch (US) – FLORAbrella with rain and rainbow-inspired light shows
• Linda Kaspers (Netherlands) – Colour-teaching children’s camera
• Ryan Cain (US) – FLORA baseball cap to track travel destinations
• Chris Carter (US) – Light-up costumes controlled by the FLORA microcontroller
• Catherine Jones (UK) – Wearable feedback device for London Science Museum
• Alex May (US) – GPS glove
• Bill Shaw (US) – Roller coaster evaluation; geocaching; and health monitoring

The Adafruit FLORA kits can be purchased in the U.S. from Newark.com and in Europe from Farnell.com.

Market reports from IMS conservatively set the wearable market at $6bn by 2016, and Credit Suisse predicts the “mega trend” could be worth $50bn in five years.


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