Research & Development

We love research and learning how to make things interactive!

Collaboration is key so do get in touch. We want to hear from customers, researchers, e-textile experts, and manufacturers.
We would also like to thank all the brilliant people we have worked with and who have helped us on our exciting journey. Many thanks.

Links to friendly e-textile research groups

Bonnie Binary’s aims

  1. Crafting textiles to create unique sensory and comforting products that are a joy to live with.
  2. Applying e-textile solutions in the field of care and well-being.

Our research began with the idea that the largely untapped world of e-textiles could provide new ways to support people’s wellbeing and extend the value of sensory textiles.

As pioneers of e-textile research, we are involved in multi-disciplinary projects with university and industry partners. Through these collaborations, we are exploring the potential of e-textiles to provide therapeutic products in the social care sector. We combine the tactile elements of beautifully crafted textiles with interactive digital responses to comfort, entertain and enable engagement in a wide range of playful, comforting and sociable activities.

We are designing high-tech solutions with familiar, low-tech, textile interfaces, to make connecting with technology easier and more comfortable across a range of needs.

Ultimately, Bonnie Binary’s accessible, intuitive, useful and friendly products aim to bring the advantages of technology to a wider and different audience by packaging interactivity in new ways.

Our Research Projects

Textile design, E-textile design, interface design, Haptic feedback

Vibro-tactile Textiles 2020 – 2021

Funded by The Worth Project.

Our brilliant team:
Annie Lywood, Anna Blumenkranz, Maurin Donneaud Mentor Marina Toeters

Our aim
To design an e-textile sensory device to entertain and comfort people living with dementia, disability and anxiety. Helping people to engage with technology through familiar gestures and materials.

Key words:
Textile design, E-textile design, interface design, Haptic feedback

Benefits we aim to achieve in our sensory cushions

  1. Calming and engaging therapeutic cushions to lower stress levels and anxiety
  2. Facilitate emotional expression and improve mood
  3. Optimise quality of life
  4. Harmonise the senses

Goals for this project

  1. Develop the intuitive touch feedback experience
  2. Design the sensory interface
  3. Map the interface design to the haptic feedback
  4. make functioning prototypes to test

Musical-Cush 2020-2021

IBbD funded project

Our partners:
Dr Yang Wei, School of Science & Technology, Nottingham Trent University and James Meadwell of Design Matter Product Design & Research

Our product, the Music-Cushion, directly addresses the care needs of the growing number of people living with dementia, as well as those with mental health issues and similar conditions that can lead to anxiety and isolation.

It aims to enable anyone to play and explore calming, healing soundscapes simply by touching the buttons of a decorative, huggable cushion, opening up a wide range of enjoyable activities for people with dementia and their carers.

Becoming part of daily, high-quality care, the gently evocative stimuli of healing sounds with comforting touch, enabled by Music-Cush, are designed to create positive mood change, reduce stress, enliven the present, and to stimulate singing, movement and opportunities for sociable interaction.

Accessibility Control Interfaces using E-Textiles 2020

Funded by the South West Creative Technology Network – Automation Grant

Partners Dr John Tudor & Dr Russell Torah Principal  Research Fellows and founding members of the UK E-Textile Network both with many years experience in Smart Textiles.

For this project we are prototyping and testing a simple control interface for our sensory textile products. We will work with our partners Dr John Tudor and Dr Russell Torah at Southampton University Computer Science Department to test the feasibility of using printed inks on textiles to create the sensors for our controls to trigger a range of sensory feedback. Solving the problem of reliable sensors in textiles will enable Bonnie Binary to scale up production and bring our next generation of interactive therapeutic products to market.

Outputs of this project

  • Printed ink sensors on textiles
  • A prototype board to enable the sensors to trigger outputs
  • Testing the board and sensors in one of our products to showcase
  • Research report

The Calming Cushion 2019 – to be continued

Funded by The Brigstow Institute, Bristol University

Our Partners:
Dr Chris Kent‘s (Experimental Psychology) research focuses on the perception of simple sensations and how anxiety affects our cognition. Chris will be supervising the behavioural studies and focus groups.
Prof Jonathan Rossiter (Engineering Mathematics and Bristol Robotics Lab) is a leading innovator of soft systems for robotics. Jonathan’s work is in human interaction, wearable assistance and healthcare including tactile sensing.

Annie Lywood (Bonnie Binary) is an e-textiles designer. Her work focuses on exploring the sensory benefits of interactive textiles to address social connectivity and emotional wellbeing.
Emily Crowe is a Research Associate and Cognitive Psychologist.
Emily Ball is an MSc student focusing on behavioural testing of students.
Alice Haynes is a PhD student working on soft robotics.

The research team explored the role of soft interactive technology to remotely communicate empathy and emotions. We researched which textures and materials provide comfort and create positive emotions. Together the team created a ‘Calming Cushion’ prototype that is a soft-and-smart object that:

  • Is pleasant to hold and interact with,
  • Senses human markers of action and behaviour,
  • Acts intelligently to reduce anxiety.

The ‘Calming Cushion’ is designed to induce a sense of calm and to reduce anxiety through natural, affective and tactile communication.

It has been a wonderful experience working on this project and we are very excited about the positive feedback from user testing with experts, students and dementia patients. People wanted to buy the product. We aim to get funding to develop this project further.

Thank you to all the team, your wonderful to work with!

Tactile interfaces for older people and assisted living 2018

Funded by The Brigstow Institute

Our Partners: The Brigstow Institute, Creative Technologist Pete Bennett of The bigLab, Computer Scientist Kirsten Cater and Social Scientist Helen Manchester all from Bristol University and members of Pervasive Media Studios, Bristol.

Our inspiration for creating Tactile Interfaces for the older generation is to help them stay independent and live well with simple and user friendly technology.

  • to create easily accessible useful, beautiful and friendly tech through soft tactile and sensory electronic interfaces
  • to enhance user experience by harnessing the unique qualities of textiles – adding a sensory and tactile experience to the control of objects in the home
  • to bring the advantages of tech to a wider and different audience by packaging it in a new way
  • to help older people stay independent and in touch with friends and family

Tactile interfaces for older people brings together a computer scientist (Kirsten Cater) and a social scientist (Helen Manchester) with creative technologists (Annie Lywood and Pete Bennett) to explore the potential for soft, interactive textiles and art to enable older people to access and manage their immediate environment and memories. Our work aims to improve the quality of life for care home residents enabling independence, communication and social interaction to mitigate the early-stages of dementia.

Thank you to all our partners and carehomes for their support, valuable feedback and expertise on this project. We learnt so much that continues to be translated into our product designs.

Soft Textile games controllers 2018 – 2020

Aimed at enabling a new audience to access the fun of playing online games. We are making simplified textile controls to be reliable, comfortable and easy-to-use, ideal for older people, multi-generational use or those with special mobility requirements. The Textile/Soft Controller is intended to be a gateway enabling greater social interaction opportunities, communications with friends and family in fun entertaining ways that also happen to benefit health and general well-being.

The Red Dress – featuring illuminated electronic Yarn

Aim – to advance the development of Smart Textiles
E-yarn is a joint project between Nottingham Trent and Southampton University called FETT (Functional electronic Textiles). Bonnie Binary was brought in as a research partner with the industry partner Stretchline to complement and strengthen existing expertise. The FETT research project has been exploring novel manufacturing methods for Functional Electronic Textiles to advance the state of the art. The Bonnie Binary team were set a brief to create a dress that incorporates LED e-yarns to showcase this unique technology. Our objective has been to test methods of attaching e-yarns to fabrics whilst maintaining the yarn’s unique qualities of flexibility and drapeability. This collaborative partnership has resulted in the creation of a unique dress that has e-yarns incorporated into the decorative surface embroidery.


Many thanks to the following team who have been working with me on this exciting research project. The success of the project is due to their expertise and brilliance.
Electronics engineer – The Invent Hive
Dress Designer and technical spec -Andrew Richards
Pattern cutter and Dress maker – Jessica Charlestone
Embellishment – Beatrice Mayfield
Digital Embroiderer – Jacky Puzey

I am most grateful to
Dorothy Hardy, Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University and member of the Advanced Textiles Research Group for her guidance throughout the project.
John Tudor, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton:
Many thanks for funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of the project: Novel Manufacturing methods for functional electronic textiles (EP/MO15149/1) that has enabled us to work on this exciting project and to industry partner Stretchline for their support.
It has been a pleasure working with you all. Thank you

Tactile interactive Toys 2016

In development, these tactile toys are an on-going exploration into interaction possibilities. They combine e-textiles with different interfaces, and are a great place to challenge making skills and programming abilities. Currently the lights and sound on the frog change according to its movement.

Valkerie’s Costume Jacket 2016

This jacket was designed for Valkerie, a teenage character with superpowers and a badass attitude. It has been a great project to work on and involved the collaboration of a team of skilled artisans. The lights on the back are simply controlled by an App on an iPhone, and we designed a special textile touchslider to control the performance of the lights on the arm of the jacket.