Mandalight: Ohm powered ommms


Being a student in NYC can sometimes be stressful (especially during finals!). We needed to remind ourselves to breathe so we created a mediation mandala lamp that’s powered by breath.

The wind sensor tracks exhales and inhales. We programmed the lamp to change colors with breath.


lamp-8313 lamp-8311

The light changes colors as you inhale and exhale. Focusing on breathing (and not thinking about anything else) is a way to meditate. Even just a few minutes of focused breathing can have an amazing effect on your mood and can reduce anxiety.

This product is for busy people who need to remember to breathe!

See all the steps and make your own! Everything you need is on Instructables (click here!).


Enjoy. And remember — just breathe.

Julia +Eliz

Smart Meditation Blanket

The goal of this project is to encourage competitive people to meditate daily. Meditation has clear benefits. According to an article in Psychology Today, meditating creates a sense of calm, allows people to see things more clearly, and reduces anxiety. Scientists are studying how meditation effects certain parts of the brain and there are technologies to track focus, such as Melon:

Like the yoga trend that proceeded it, meditation is becoming ever more popular. As a result, there’s a lot of new consumer products that help people track their brainwaves. For example, the Nuerosky headset allows people to lift a toy helicopter by focusing on one idea. While this is exciting, to maintain the benefits of meditation, it’s important to practice every day.

Therefore, we’ve decided to make a smart object like a meditation blanket that people will want to use when they meditate. The blanket will have a sensor that tracks time and days. This will sync up to an app that uses gamification to encourage people to reach higher levels (in this case the levels will be “chakras”).  This information can be shared via social media outlets.

While it may seem contradictory to add competition to meditation, mediation is actually be used as a tool by high-powered tech entrepreneurs as a way to turn off.

In the New York Times article called “Mindfulness: Getting Its Share of Attention,” one chief executive said that mindfulness has actually made him more competitive.  “Not only do I put fewer things on my to-do list but I actually get them done and done well. It’s like I’ve learned that to be more successful and accomplish more, I must first slow down.”

We hope to create a beautiful object that highly driven people who lead hectic lives will want to use to help them chill out.

This project will use a sensor for the mat and a time tracker. We hope to learn some programming to start the app and create screenshots for the rest of the features.

We would love some advice on the actual technology that we will use to make this a reality.

Julia + Eliz

Turn Me On

This movie (and this post) is a product of collaboration from Steve, Lucy, Elisa, and Julia.

After thinking about what makes a product video powerful, we decided to create a story line with rising tension.  We created three different switches to tell the story of a young couple falling in love. The switches are turn ons and show the clear chemistry between the guy and the girl.

We started out in the VFL soldering wires and connecting batteries to our electronic switches.

Turn Me On Process-1030677


Turn Me On Process-1030695

Then we headed to our filming location. We already had a storyboard so the filming was efficient and fun.



Below are the three stars of our film, our three switches.

“Romant-o-meter Flatware and Candle Set”switch3


“Consentronic Proximity Sensing Bracelet”



“Arousal Activated LED Blinky Bra”



Finally, we edited the film and added fitting music. Enjoy!

LED silverware “candle”

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 9.03.08 PMFor my innovative switch, I created an LED candle that’s powered by a fork and knife touching. Check out the video here!

This happens throughout a meal so the candle with flicker on and off. The switch is normally on so it will turn off when the fork and knife are crossed — symbolizing the end of the meal.

The idea is that this switch will make people more aware of the act of eating and will  happen them slow down and enjoy every bite!

Light Up “Superhero” Yoga Mat


Before I set out to make my yoga superhero mat, I did some research and found a burgeoning yogi/superhero movement. Check it out here! There’s a pose in yoga called “Superman” and yoga helps people find their superhero within.


So first I had to write some code to make a yoga mat with velostat sensors that lights up. I took inspiration from these Firewalker LED sneakers and then made some adjustments so that the different pins corresponded to different velostat pads. You can see the prototype here.

Next, I started to build the mat. I soldered the LED strip on the flora board and used conductive thread to sew from the sensors to the flora board. The code I wrote is for three sensors, but I used two so that things wouldn’t get too messy.

I used conductive thread so that the mat could still easily be rolled up and transported.


Now when I do yoga, the mat changes colors when I move around. I could see that this would make yoga more fun for kids and might propose the idea to Headstand. I also think that this would make for a rad yoga dance party! MC Yogi would LOVE it.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 9.37.33 PM

Check out the code and make your own light up superhero yoga mat!

#include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>

const int analogInPin = A9; // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to
Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(60, 6, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);
int sensorValueR = 0; // value read from the pot

int sensorValueG = 0; // value read from the pot
int sensorValueB = 0; // value read from the pot

const int ledPin = 7;
void setup() {
pinMode(9, INPUT);
digitalWrite(9, HIGH);
pinMode(12, INPUT);
digitalWrite(12, HIGH);
pinMode(10, INPUT);
digitalWrite(10, HIGH);


void loop() {
sensorValueR = analogRead(analogInPin);
Serial.print(“sensorR = “);
sensorValueG = analogRead(11);
Serial.print(“sensorG = “);
sensorValueB = analogRead(10);
Serial.print(“sensorB = “);

int r=0, g=0, b=0;
if (sensorValueR > 55) {

if (sensorValueG > 352){
if (sensorValueB > 65) {

colorWipe(strip.Color(r, g, b), 25);


void colorWipe(uint32_t c, uint8_t wait) {
for(uint16_t i=0; i<strip.numPixels(); i++) {
strip.setPixelColor(i, c);;

Super hero running headband here I come!

I have big dreams to make a running headband (my take on a superhero mask) to wear this winter that changes color when I change speeds. To do that, I will have to get a lot better at sewing with conductive thread. I resewed my acceleramotor a bunch of times, but still, when I tried it out on the multimeter — something was not right!

Photo1 (1)

Eventually, I got so frustrated that I took an x-acto knife to the thread. In a moment of NOT sewing zen, I stabbed myself with the x-acto knife. But I found a bandaid and persevered.

In order to practice the acceleramotor and keep my sanity, I decided to practice with alligator clips. I changed the threshold to 1 so that the neopixel that I attached would light up a lot.



I have a lot more practicing to do, but I’m enjoying every step of the Arduino adventure!

Edible / Superhero Accessories

The Superfood Superhero gets her power from fresh fruits and vegetables. Her clothes are made from fruit and she can ward off evil with larger-than-life carrots. You can spot her at the Union Square Green Market.




I was not one of those superhero-loving kids growing up, so I started this project by asking some questions and trying to learn more about superheroes:

1. What accessories do superheroes use?

2. What do superheroes eat?

3. What are some superhero powers?

4. What makes someone a superhero?

5. What’s the problem with superhero accessories?


When I think of superhero accessories, I think of plastic kids costumes that are sold in Halloween stores and worn once before thrown away. An edible costume would be all natural and create less waste.  I wanted to make it out of healthy foods because a superhero should promote healthy eating. I thought about a kale cape or banana peels. But I wanted something durable. Fruit leather seemed like the perfect option.

It’s easy to make fruit leather by blending three cups of fruit and then cooking it in the oven at 175 degrees for 4-5 hours. I made two leathers: banana and mango for yellow and raspberries and strawberries for red.

I planned to make arm cuffs and a belt buckle from fruit leather as well as a mask from edible paint.



Once I had my material, I prototyped an arm cuff and belt buckle and measured the dimensions. I knew I wanted to use string to lace the accessories. I wanted to punch holes in the leather. Boris in the VFL suggested using grommets so the leather wouldn’t rip. The material was too delicate and broke when I tried to hammer in the grommet, but I tested out folding it a few times and was pleased that it worked!



For the face paint, I mixed corn starch, whole milk, water and two different natural dyes: turmeric for yellow and cherry juice for pink. Even the Superfood Superhero’s makeup is made from healthy food!



The Superfood Superhero helps kids learn to love great produce. Kids can easily make her costume for Halloween. Look for the Superfood Superhero at farmers markets around the world!


Special thanks to Jung’s GIF-making tutorial! 

Julia Plevin

Meet Julia Plevin

Hi there,

I’m Julia. I get anxious when people ask where I’m from because I’ve done so much moving around this past decade. I haven’t lived in the same place for more than one year since 2005. I studied History (focused a lot on fashion history) at Dartmouth College, then I lived and worked in Hanoi, Vietnam for two years before moving to San Francisco.


I’m a writer, editor, and storyteller. I wrote a column for VentureBeat about working at a tech startup in San Francisco and have been published in The Atlantic.

I’ve always been interested in the cultural history and what the clothing people wear says about the moment in time.  Like, did you know that the invention of the safety bicycle in the 1890s was the most effective factor in changing women’s attire from big clunky skirts to streamlined bloomers?


I love adventuring and being active. I’m a runner, yogi, climber, and surfer. I hope to make some cool products for some of my favorite activities that incorporate the ethos I believe in.