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Kickstart this circuit board that turns any Electro-Luminescent material into a touch sensor

by Jacob Kleinman | August 14, 2016

You’ve probably seen Electro-Luminescent (EL) material in action before, even if you didn’t realize it. The technology lets you transmit an electric current through wires, panels or paint to glow in different colors, making it possible to create futuristic clothing designs or trick out your bike helmet a cool light-up design. Now one company says it can turn any EL into a touch sensor with a small circuit board, opening the door to some crazy new possibilities.

This is Whoa Board and it’s available on Kickstarter now.

Using Whoa Board is as simple as attaching the small gadget to some EL. From there you just touch the material or even hover your fingers directly over it to make it light up and flash. EL clothing will even respond to motion automatically when Whoa Board is connected to create a light show that matches your body movements.

Foolish Products, the company behind Whoa Board, also designed the product to be open source. It’s Arduino compatible, so you can connect to other devices like a computer for more complicated programming beyond a simple on/off switch.

The circuit board’s design is as simple and easy to use as possible. It features a physical on/off switch along and supports up to four separate channels. The only thing it’s missing is a power source, but you can plug it into a rechargeable power pack and you should be good to go.

You can grab Whoa Board for as little as $60, which includes a cable and piece of EL to get you started. It should ship in October, though delays are always possible. You can also spend a little bit more and get the board, a cable, an external battery back, four pieces of EL wire, an EL panel and some extra connectors for just $99.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...