Interactive Jacket for Cyclists




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Interactive Jacket for Cyclists is a fun project where we turn an ordinary jacket into a wonderful interactive jacket which can display turn signals on the back. These turn signals (LEDS) can be activated by using hand gestures (waving your hand). Also it features front and back LEDs for increased visibility for the cyclist.

In this Instructable, we will show you how we made it, step by step and how can you replicate it to make your own jacket.

This was part of course project for Physical Computing at Saarland University taught by Prof. Steimle.

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Step 1: Stuff Needed

Before we do anything, lets make a list of things we would need to make this jacket.

Images are listed in the order of the list

  • A Jacket (Obviously. Any jacket would do)
  • Arduino Uno (or Lilypad)
  • Two 9V Batteries (or one 9V battery and one Lilypad battery if using lilypad)
  • Two Accelerometers (if possible, two identical accelerometers are required. However we did not had two identical ones, so we used Sparkfun IMU 9DOF Sensor Stick and Adafruit ADXL335)
  • Red LEDs for back lights
  • Yellow LEDs for turn signal lights
  • White LEDs for front lights
  • Perfboard
  • Dozen 1k ohm resistors
  • 9V battery connectors
  • 10k ohm potentiometer
  • Four 2N2222 transistors
  • Set of wires, very long ones
  • Screw headers for connecting the wires to the perfboard
  • SPDT Maniture Switch (main on/off switch)
  • A box to contain Arduino and the batteries inside the jacket. We used Arduino Sidekick Basic Kit's green box

You can also buy LED strips instead of individual LEDs.

Tools Needed

  • Hot glue gun (or sewing kit)
  • Soldering Iron
  • Shrink tubes
  • Sticky notes (for labeling the wires)

Step 2: Design

The layout image shows the placement of the lights in the jacket, as well as the placement of the accelerometers near the cuffs. You can place the main board (Arduino and batteries) anywhere you want, let it be underneath the jacket.

The reason for placing the accelerometers near the cuffs of the jacket is that, it needs to be near the hands in order for it to detect the hand gestures effectively.

There are two turn signals LED groups for left and right turns, which are yellow LEDs. There is a single group of red LEDs for brake/back in red color and single group of white LEDs in white color for increased visibility.

Step 3: Circuit Design and Programming

To make this jacket, we need a circuit. The circuit schematic diagram (added figure) shows how different components are connected. You can make the circuit on a breadboard to test it out first (figure is added). And then solder it to the perfboard which can be used as an Arduino shield (Arduino addon, see the pictures). But the wires to & from the accelerometers should be long enough to reach to jacket's cuffs, since we need to install the accelerometers at the cuff (see previous step).

Programming the Arduino

Once you are done and happy with your the circuit, you need to program the Arduino. The program for the Arduino is given in the files section. The program requires two additional libraries

  1. SimpleTimer
  2. SparkFun LSM9DS1

Install the libraries first into the Arduino. Then download the file and open with Arduino to program it.

Early Testing

You can test the working of the circuit by placing the accelerometers on your cuff (see figure) and try waving it. If the gesture is not detected, try changing the potientiometer to change the sensitivity.

LED circuits

We soldered the LEDs in series and parallel combination so that each LED can get 1.5 volts, along with 220 ohm resistors to limit the current.. We are running the LEDs from 9V batteries. But we would suggest replacing the LEDs with LED strips for simplicity.

Step 4: Assembling

Attaching the Accelerometers Modules

The assembly of the jacket starts with attaching the accelerometers to the inside of the cuff. The modules can be added using hot glue or sewing. The figure shows the how the modules are attached to the inside of the cuff along with wires. Please label the signals/power wires with sticky tape and write the wire names.

Attaching the LED circuits

The groups of LEDs are made using perfboard and can be attached using hot glue. You can see in the figures how each perfboard with LEDs are attached to the jacket. You have to make a hole for the wires to pass through.

LED wires

The wires (LED ones and accelerometer ones) are routed to the main board (Arduino) and fixed to the jacket using hot glue, you can also sew it if you want to. See the figures.

Main Board

The main board comprises of Arduino, the circuit and the batteries enclosed in a container. We used Sidekick Basic Kit as a container :P

Attaching the Switch and Potentiometer

You can attach the switch (on/off) and potentiometer to the green box. But for that we need to make holes for the wires to pass through. We used soldering iron to make holes into the green box, later we hot glued the switch and potentiometer. See the figures

Basically you are done with the assembly step.

Step 5: Testing It Out!

So you have reached till this step. Everything should be working for now. Your jacket should be complete by now

Try changing the potentiometer to change the threshold value which will make the hand gesture detection more sensitive.

What's more?

Well you can do a lot of improvements to this jacket, such as maybe detect the deacceleration and turn on the back LEDs accordingly, acting as a brake lights. Or perhaps make this out of Lilypad and conductive thread and make it washable.

Good luck!

If you like this Instructable, please vote us for the competitions, thank you

Sensors Contest 2017

First Prize in the
Sensors Contest 2017

Microcontroller Contest 2017

Participated in the
Microcontroller Contest 2017



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    14 Discussions


    3 months ago

    Incredible, I would like to know if you could help me a little, I am new to this arduino and only managed to get two accelerometers adxl 335, how could I adapt the code? Thank you very much in advance


    4 months ago

    Hi, we need some help, my classmates and i we are trying to recreate this project, but we are having some issues with our led, we can make one turn on but together not, we were trying to follow your images, what can we do?

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Great project Sir!

    working on this project this error was encountered while uploading project on Arduino Uno. Please help me.

    Arduino: 1.8.5 (Windows 8.1), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"

    C:\Users\pc\Documents\Arduino\Interactive_Jacket\Interactive_Jacket.ino:5:25: fatal error: SimpleTimer.h: No such file or directory

    #include <SimpleTimer.h>


    compilation terminated.

    exit status 1

    Error compiling for board Arduino/Genuino Uno.

    This report would have more information with

    "Show verbose output during compilation"

    option enabled in File -> Preferences.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Download the SimpleTimer library from here


    1 year ago

    Sir, I am Working on this project.I am new in this field. I faced this problem while uploading project on UNO
    please help me.

    Arduino: 1.8.5 (Windows 8.1), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"

    Sketch uses 12362 bytes (38%) of program storage space. Maximum is 32256 bytes.

    Global variables use 1105 bytes (53%) of dynamic memory, leaving 943 bytes for local variables. Maximum is 2048 bytes.

    avrdude: ser_open(): can't open device "\\.\COM3": The system cannot find the file specified.


    2 years ago

    How to merge the 6 into files in main code to upload it as a single file onto arduino

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Extract the zip file and you will find a folder "Interactive_Jacket". Place this folder in My Documents/Arduino/

    Access the program in Arduino, go to File menu>Sketchbook>Interactive_Jacket


    2 years ago

    Great idea! especially for the night bike riders:) I liked it.


    2 years ago

    Looks great. As you are talking about the brake lights as a future improvement, I was wondering what their current function is

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    The current function is to blink at some intervals to increase the visibility of the rider


    Nice. My wife has been asking me to make one of these for her to wear when riding at night. Thanks for the tutorials. It saves me a lot of work to not have to start from scratch.