LilyPad Arduino – the wearable technology using arduino


LilyPad Arduino is one of the many Arduino microcontrollers, but unlike the more well-known Arduino UNO, MEGA and Yun, this little board has very specific characteristics that make it unique. In fact, the LilyPad can be sewn on fabric. In fact, with only 19 € you can add technology to our garments, but also bags, shoes, diaries, and so on. In this article we will know in detail this board and we’ll see some examples of how it has been applied in some exciting projects.

The board

The creator of this small and very special board is Leah Buechley, with the support of SparkFun Electronics which currently distributes it on the market along with a set of accessories.

LilyPad Arduino – the wearable technology

Despite its small size, 5 cm in diameter and 0.8 mm thick, this circular board is supplied with 22 pins (14 I/O digital pins, 6 I/O analog pins, 2 pins for power). These pins are distributed along the perimeter as the petals of a flower, and have a shape such as to allow the electrical contact even by sewing.

The core of this small card is the ATmega328 microcontroller, or the advanced version in which there is the ATMEGA32U4 microcontroller with USB port. Programming Lilypad does not differ from of all other boards of Arduino. Thus you can use the Arduino IDE without any problem (you can download it from here). To connect the Lilypad to the PC, if you have the board in the USB version (ATMEGA32U4 board) there is no problem, just a USB cable with a micro USB terminal. While if you have available the classic version of the card (ATMega328 board) you need to use an USB-FTDI adapter.

Microcontroller ATmega168V or ATmega328V
Operating Voltage 2.7-5.5 V
Input Voltage 2.7-5.5 V
Digital I/O Pins 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
Analog Input Pins 6
DC Current per I/O Pin 40 mA
Flash Memory 16 KB (of which 2 KB used by bootloader)
EEPROM 512 bytes
Clock Speed 8 MHz

Sew a circuit

In addition to the Lilypad board, the Sparkfun Electronics offers a whole series of accessories that can be sewn. Since their purpose, Lilypad and all accessory components must meet special requirements: in fact, thet have a high degree of flexibility, but not only … all components, including the Lilypad board can be washed by hand!

Thus buttons, sensors, and LEDs can be sewn on clothes in particular positions, so as to perform specific functions. All these elements are sewn using conductive wires so as to realize a circuit.

On the Internet there is a nice  tutorial that explains in detail how to sew a circuit incorporating the various elements on a dress. The tutorial is available at, a beautiful site dedicated to all the lovers of this fantastic board.

Electronic Traces – visual sensations with dance steps

In my opinion, one of the best apps that have been created with the LilyPad isElectronic Traces. This project allows you to create digital paintings through the movement of the dancers.

Thanks to a series of motion sensors and pressure sewn on dance shoes, the Lilypad board allows you to capture the movements of the dancer turning them into visual sensations. The signals collected from the Lilypad board are sent to an electronic device, such as a smart phone. An application then converts this data into very appealing graphic displays.

The images created can also be converted into a movie. A possible application could be to a dancer that uses these movies in order to analyze its movements and then fix them.

The circuit to be realized, or better to sew on the shoe is really very simple. From the photos available on the website (see Figure 7 and 9), you can see an accelerometer (Figure 10), which will track the movement of the foot. The accelerometer in question is the SparkFun DEV-09 267, or better, a small card which has an integrated three-axis accelerometer ADXL335 MEMS AnalogDevice that provides an analog signal of 0 to 3V for each of the three Cartesian axes X, Y and Z .

In addition to the accelerometer, a series of touch sensors are connected to the Lilypad. These sensors are sewn on the tip of the shoe, heel and sole of the foot. These force sensors will indicate the various levels of pressure at which the shoe is subjected during the movement of the dancer.

LilyPad Arduino – the wearable technology

Wireless Controlled Robotic Hand

This is the project proposed by an Italian guy Gabriel Santin. It consists of an artificial hand controlled by a glove fitted with flex sensors totally wireless. The LilyPad board is sewn on the back of the glove,

The ability to wirelessly manage the control of artificial hand is due to the addition of an accessory board on which you can mount a Xbee module.

In Internet c’è un bellissimo articolo scritto dallo stesso Gabriele Santin che descrive come realizzare questo splendido progetto,Inoltre, ecco un filmato del progetto:

On the Internet there is a wonderful article written by Gabriel Santin which describes how to make this wonderful project,


For more detail: LilyPad Arduino – the wearable technology

About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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