|Sept - Dec 2016|
|Global Digital Innovation|
A few years ago Jie Qi, co- founder of Chibitronics and a qualified mechanical engineer, started looking at the idea of paper electronics and making stickers – peel and use circuit stickers, stickers with a twist – stickers that light up. Today, she is acknowledged as one of the pioneers leading the creative digital science movement in art and science that is rapidly spreading across the world. And later this year, Johannesburg – through Digitalnfo.com – hopes to host the country’s first Chibitronics workshop.
I discovered and learn about Jie’s amazing work in 2015 while in Johannesburg and found out that she was at MIT Media Lab working on her research. The timing was was uncanny as I was to be at Harvard this year and so I contacted her when I arrived and her she graciously invited me to her electronic paper brainstorm workshop where we looked at ways to create a a new prototype for reusable stickers. I persuaded her to share the background of Chibitronics amidst her hectic scheduling.
Chibitronics is art and science realised and combines Jie’s love for arts and crafts to build sensors using conductive material. In the process- she demystified circuitry and electronics by creating the stickers. For her it is all magical. For the rest of us – it is circuits and electronics demystified.
Jie sees circuit stickers as a tool to make building circuits and electronics easy – through the process of making, building – using that process for learning. It is also an innovation all by itself and that is its magic. In the process Jie has looked the art as medium – an expression for us to tell new stories as the the paper stickers offers much flexibility to creative expression. It is also a learning empowerment tool and she hopes will engage broader range of audiences and users to understand circuitry as well facilitate technology creators.
From an educators perspective, people have been traditionally consumers of technology and less able to create technology and in Jie’s mind – electronic programming should be a more common language around us. An LED light is the same LED in the power button in your phone / fridge. It is the exact same science.
Jie says she is still learning on the comparative success of Chibitronics with conventional schools and class teaching on circuitry. On art, expression and science as well as what is happening in class as well as the maker movement – getting kids and people to create. STEAM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) is where she wants to be – getting the arts into the STEM learning is something Jie is passionate about and so she is STEAM personified. She has certainly made us see how and where science meets art.
Chibitronics came from the Japanese anime chibi and means – small, cute and friendly the opposite of intimidating and that is what Chibitronics want to make technology.
Jie has written Circuit Sticker Sketchbook available in English, Chinese and Japanese. And while Chibi is more than likely light up in more countries. Jie is writing another book – and we hope to meet Ellie the LED, sometime soon and learn more about circuitry. Bravo to this digital luminary.
This is the era of digital pioneers. Watch out for them here on Digitalnfo.com