This is an instructable for the Interactive LED Lab Coats, showcased at Autodesk University. 

Check out the videos below! The first is a demo of the colors actuated by the buttons. The second is a demo of the breathalyzer! (this will be explained later)


  • Sewing machine
  • Soldering iron
  • Wire cutters & strippers
  • Hobby knife
  • Hot glue gun
  • Computer

  • Two lab coats
  • Arduino (Uno or later)
  • LED Spool(s) (5 meter, 300 LED count, 50/50 size LEDs, epoxy-coated) - 2 spools for a child's coat, 3 for an adult.
  • 24 gauge 4-wire strips (Intercom wire works well.)
  • Protoboards (Or a ProtoShield for the Arduino will work even better. We cut our own protoboard to size and tucked it behind, because we wanted to keep the arduino visible. But a real protoshield would be more stable.)
  • Sensors, to taste. Our code and wiring diagrams include a microphone, so your coat can light up in response to noise, and an accelerometer so your coat can light up as you move.
  • 12 volt rechargeable battery packs. For a few hours of use, 2 or 3 packs for a child sized coat, 3 or 4 for an adult coat (this is to make sure there is enough amperage, each battery is limited to 2A max)
  • Push-buttons
  • Hot glue
  • Solder
  • Masking tape
  • A white zipper (long enough to run the length of your coat)
  • Velcro
This instructable assumes a middling knowledge of a few different fields. If you can use a sewing machine, follow a circuit diagram, and load a program onto an Arduino, you can do it on your own. If not, it's all stuff you can learn with the help of the right friend. Some of the steps are time consuming, but all the skills you need can be learned quickly.

Step 1: Plot the Light Strips

The coat, in summary, is one lab coat holding the lights in place while a second coat over it diffuses the light. At its heart, an Arduino takes in information from sensors and converts it to patterns of flashing colors. Easy enough, right? But before we can launch in, we need to answer a question of taste, first: What light-up pattern do you want?

We decided an a starburst pattern for Carl and Schuyler's coats. It's a dramatic look, and it makes the lights come together at one point, shortening the total amount of wire the coat has to carry. There's more than one right answer, though...

Once you've chosen your light pattern, take one of your two lab coats to lay out the pattern on. This will be the "undercoat" that holds the lights in place. Mark everywhere you want to put a light strip with masking tape. Note that your LED strips can only be cut at certain places (without breaking the circuit).  

<p>Oh my, how useful this would be with a toxic gas sensor to warn you, or others, of any harmful emissions nearby!</p>
LOVE IT!!!! Thank you for sharing.
Awesome!!!! What a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing!!!!
I am new to Arduino and I am loving this. I have figured out how to play with the code somewhat, but am wondering if its possible to have the mic input control color cycling?
Brilliant! Any video?
Hey! Just posted a couple videos.
Nice! But why didn't you use LilyPad's fabric friendly system? O.o
If you do decide to make yours with a Lilypad, be sure to add a voltage regulator into the circuit as well. We specify Arduino &quot;Uno or later&quot; in the parts list because the Uno can take a 12 volt input, allowing us to keep the same voltage over the entire system. If you go with a lilypad, you'll need a regulator to bring the V-in on it down into the 2.7 to 5.5 volt range the lilypad will tolerate.
The main reason was the same reason we didn't use a protoshield to join the wires over the Arduino, even though it would have been more stable. Aesthetically, we wanted a standard Arduino Uno front and center, to spark discussions on what could be done with arduino at the conference.
Thanks ... I was wondering about how y'all did that. Schuyler's bit of the keynote address was one of the highlights of AU2012. Nice to see Carl hasn't let success and age force him to grow up, too. :)
I wonder if I'd get into trouble if I did this to my motorcycle jacket? <br>I'd use colors that are legal amber and white?
This is neat-o. Wish there was a video of the finished product in action. :)
Very nice instructable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where did you get your LED spools?
Hey Rowleysh, we purchased the spools on amazon. Our search query was: &quot;waterproof 5050 smd rgb 300 LED strip&quot;. 5050 is a designation of LED size, and therefore brightness, and 300 is the number of LEDs per strip. Look for something without the power block and IR receiver for a wireless project like this.
ممتاز وشكراً
Very cool! I got to try this on in its test stage and it was SWEEEEEEET!

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Bio: We're a hardware prototyping company. People come to us with awesome ideas, and we make them physical!
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