Welcome

Welcome to 3d Electronic Circuits .com.

We are going to be bringing some new concepts to the world of electronics here and are also going to be covering the more general electronic theories and circuits.

My basic theory for building true 3d electronic circuits can be found on “The Theory” page.

I am also hoping to be able to provide you with some electronic designing and project kits.

Keep checking back as this site is brand new and it does take some time to get some content up.

The SAFE Tech Act Wouldn't Make the Internet Safer for Users

Section 230, a key law protecting free speech online since its passage in 1996, has been the subject of numerous legislative assaults over the past few years. The attacks have come from all sides. One of the latest, the SAFE Tech Act, seeks to address real problems Internet users experience, but its implementation would harm everyone on the Internet. 

The SAFE Tech Act is a shotgun approach to Section 230 reform put forth by Sens. Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar earlier this month. It would amend Section 230 through the ever-popular method of removing platform immunity from liability arising from various types of user speech. This would lead to more censorship as social media companies seek to minimize their own legal risk. The bill compounds the problems it causes by making it more difficult to use the remaining immunity against claims arising from other kinds of user content. 

Addressing Big Tech’s surveillance-based business models can’t, and shouldn’t, be done through amendments to Section 230—but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. 


The act would not protect users’ rights in a way that is substantially better than current law. And it would, in some cases, harm marginalized users, small companies, and the Internet ecosystem as a whole. Our three biggest concerns with the SAFE Tech Act are: 1) its failure to capture the reality of paid content online, 2) the danger that an affirmative defense requirement creates and 3) the lack of guardrails around injunctive relief that would open the door for a host of new suits that simply remove certain speech.

Section 230 Benefits Everyone

Before considering what this bill would change, it’s useful to take a look at the benefits that Section 230 provides for all internet users. The Internet today allows people everywhere to connect and share ideas—whether that’s for free on social media platforms and educational or cultural platforms like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive, or on paid hosting services like Squarespace or Patreon. Section 230’s legal protections benefit Internet users in two ways. 

Section 230 Protects Intermediaries That Host Speech: Section 230 enables services to host the content of other speakers—from writing, to videos, to pictures, to code that others write or upload—without those services generally having to screen or review that content before being published. Without this partial immunity, all of the intermediaries who help the speech of millions and billions of users reach their audiences would face unworkable content moderation requirements that inevitably lead to large scale censorship. The immunity has some important exceptions, including for violations of federal criminal law and intellectual property claims. But the legal immunity’s protections extend to services far beyond social media platforms. Thus everyone who sends an email, makes a Kickstarter, posts on Medium, shares code on Github, protects their site from DDOS attacks with Cloudflare, makes friends on Meetup, or posts on Reddit, benefits from Section 230’s immunity for all intermediaries. 

Section 230 Protects Users Who Create Content: Section 230 directly protects Internet users who themselves act as online intermediaries from being held liable for the content created by others. So when people publish a blog and allow reader comments, for example, Section 230 protects them. This enables Internet users to create their own platforms for others’ speech, such as when an Internet user created the Shitty Media Men list that allowed others to share their own experiences involving harassment and sexual assault. 

The SAFE Tech Act Fails to Capture the Reality of Paid Content Online

In what appears to be an attempt to limit deceptive advertising, the SAFE Tech Act would amend Section 230 to remove the service’s immunity for user-generated content when that content is paid speech. According to the senators, the goal of this change is to stop Section 230 from applying to ads, “ensuring that platforms cannot continue to profit as their services are used to target vulnerable consumers with ads enabling frauds and scams.” 

With this change, even if the defendant ultimately prevails against a plaintiff’s claims, they will have to defend themselves in court for longer, driving up their costs.

But the language in the bill is much broader than just ads. The bill says Section 230’s platform immunity for user-generated content does not apply if, “the provider or user has accepted payment to make the speech available or, in whole or in part, created or funded the creation of the speech.” Much, much more of the Internet is likely included behind this definition than advertising, and it is unclear how much paid or sponsored content this language would sweep up. This change would undoubtedly force a massive, and dangerous, overhaul to Internet services at every level. 

Although much of the legislative conversation around Section 230 reform focuses on the dominant social media services that are generally free to users, most of the intermediaries people rely on involve some form of payment or monetization: from more obvious content that sits behind a paywall on sites like Patreon, to websites that pay for hosting from providers like GoDaddy, to the comment section of a newspaper only available to subscribers. If all companies that host speech online and whose businesses depend on user payments lose Section 230 protections, the relationship between users and many intermediaries will change significantly, in several unintended ways:

Harm to Data Privacy: Services that previously accepted payments from users may decide to change to a different business model based on collecting and selling users’ personal information. So in seeking to regulate advertising, the SAFE TECH Act may perversely expand the private surveillance business model to other parts of the Internet, just so those services can continue to maintain Section 230’s protections. 

Increased Censorship: Those businesses that continue to accept payments will have to make new decisions about what speech they can risk hosting and how they vet users and screen their content. They would be forced to monitor and filter all content that appears whenever money has exchanged hands—a dangerous and unworkable solution that would find much important speech disappeared, and would turn everyone from web hosts to online newspapers into censors. The only other alternative—not hosting user speech—would also not be a step forward. 

As we’ve said many times, censorship has been shown to amplify existing imbalances in society. History shows us that when faced with the prospect of having to defend lawsuits, online services (like offline intermediaries before them) will opt to remove and reject user speech rather than try to defend it, even when it is strongly defensible. These decisions, as history has shown us, are applied disproportionately against the speech of marginalized speakers. Immunity, like that provided by Section 230, alleviates that prospect of having to defend such lawsuits. 

Unintended Burdens on a Complex Ecosystem: While minimizing dangerous or deceptive advertising may be a worthy goal, and even if the SAFE Tech Act were narrowed to target ads in particular, it would not only burden sites like Facebook that function as massive online advertising ecosystems; it would also burden the numerous companies that comprise the complex online advertising ecosystem. There are numerous intermediaries between the user seeing an ad on a website and the ad going up. It is unclear which companies would lose Section 230 immunity under the SAFE TECH Act; arguably it would be all of them. The bill doesn’t reflect or account for the complex ways that publishers, advertisers, and scores of middlemen actually exchange money in today’s online ad ecosystem, which happens often in a split second through Real-Time Bidding protocols. It also doesn’t account for more nuanced advertising regimes. For example, how would an Instagram influencer—someone who is paid by a company to share information about a product—be affected by this loss of immunity? No money has exchanged hands with Instagram, and therefore one can imagine influencers and other more covert forms of advertising becoming the norm to protect advertisers and platforms from liability. 

For a change in Section 230 to work as intended and not spiral into a mass of unintended consequences, legislators need to have a greater understanding of the Internet ecosystem of paid and content, and the language needs to be more specifically and narrowly tailored.

The Danger That an Affirmative Defense Requirement Creates 

The SAFE Tech Act also would alter the legal procedure around when Section 230’s immunity for user-generated content would apply in a way that would have massive practical consequences for users’ speech. Many people upset about user-generated content online bring cases against platforms, hosts, and other online intermediaries. Congressman Devin Nunes’ repeated lawsuits against Twitter for its users’ speech are a prime example of this phenomenon. 

The increased legal costs of even meritless lawsuits will have serious consequences for users’ speech. 

Under current law, Section 230 operates as a procedural fast-lane for online services—and users who publish another user’s content—to get rid of frivolous lawsuits. Platforms and users subjected to these lawsuits can move to dismiss the cases before having to even respond to the legal complaint or going through the often expensive fact-gathering portion of a case, known as discovery. Right now, if it’s clear from the face of a legal complaint that the underlying allegations are based on a third party’s content, the statute’s immunity requires that the case against the platform or user who hosted the complained-of content be dismissed. Of course, this has not stopped plaintiffs from bringing (often unmeritorious) lawsuits in the first place. But in those cases, Section 230 minimizes the work the court must go through to grant a motion to dismiss the case, and minimizes costs for the defendant. This protects not only platforms but users; it is the desire to avoid litigation costs that leads intermediaries to default to censoring user speech.

The SAFE Tech Act would subject both provider and user defendants to much more protracted and expensive litigation before a case could be dismissed. By downgrading Section 230’s immunity to an “affirmative defense … that an interactive computer service provider has a burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence,” defendants could no longer use Section 230 to dismiss cases at the beginning of a suit and would be required to prove—with evidence—that Section 230 applies. Right now, Section 230 saves companies and users significant legal costs when they are subjected to frivolous lawsuits. With this change, even if the defendant ultimately prevails against a plaintiff’s claims, they will have to defend themselves in court for longer, driving up their costs.

The increased legal costs of even meritless lawsuits will have serious consequences for users’ speech. An online service that cannot quickly get out of frivolous litigation based on user-generated content is likely going to take steps to prevent such content from becoming a target of litigation in the first place, including screening user’s speech or prohibiting certain types of speech entirely. And in the event that someone upset by a user’s speech sends a legal threat to an intermediary, the service is likely to be much more willing to remove the speech—even when it knows the speech cannot be subject to legal liability—just to avoid the new, larger expense and time to defend against the lawsuit.

As a result, the SAFE Tech Act would open the door for a host of new suits that by design are not filed to vindicate a legal wrong but simply to remove certain speech from the Internet—also called SLAPP lawsuits. These would remove a much greater volume of speech that does not, in fact, violate the law. Large services may find ways to absorb these new costs. But for small intermediaries and growing platforms that may be competing with those large companies, a single costly lawsuit, even if the defendant small company eventually prevails, may be the difference between success and failure. This is not to mention the many small businesses who use social media to market their company or service to respond to (and moderate) comments on their pages or sites, and who would likely be in danger of losing immunity from liability under this change. 

No Guardrails Around Injunctive Relief Would Open the Door to Dangerous Takedowns

The SAFE Tech Act also modifies Section 230’s immunity in another significant way, by permitting aggrieved individuals to seek non-monetary relief from platforms whose content has harmed them. Under the bill, Section 230 would not apply when a plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to require an online service to remove or restrict user-generated content that is “likely to cause irreparable harm.” 

The SAFE Tech Act’s injunctive relief carveout fails to account for how the provision will be misused to suppress lawful speech.

This extremely broad change may be designed to address a legitimate concern about Section 230. Some people who are harmed online simply want the speech taken down instead of seeking monetary compensation. While giving certain Internet users an effective remedy that they currently lack under 230, the SAFE Tech Act’s injunctive relief carveout fails to account for how the provision will be misused to suppress lawful speech.

The SAFE Tech Act’s language appears to permit enforcement of all types of injunctive relief at any stage in a case. Litigants often seek emergency and temporary injunctive relief at an extremely early stage of the case, and judges frequently grant it without giving the speaker or platform an opportunity to respond. Courts already issue these kinds of takedown orders against online platforms, and they are prior restraints in violation of the First Amendment. If Section 230 does not bar these types of preliminary takedown orders, plaintiffs are likely to misuse the legal system to force down legal content without a final adjudication about the actual legality of the user-generated content.

Also, the injunctive relief carveout could be abused in another type of case, known as a default judgment, to remove speech without any judicial determination that the content is illegal. Default judgments are when the defendant does not fight the case, allowing the plaintiff to win without any examination of the underlying merits. In many cases, defendants avoid litigation simply because they don’t have the time or money for it. 

Because of its one-sided nature, default judgments are subject to great fraud and abuse. Others have documented the growing phenomenon of fraudulent default judgments, typically involving defamation claims, in which a meritless lawsuit is crafted for the specific purpose of getting a default judgment and to avoid a consideration of its merits. If the SAFE Tech Act were to become law, fraudulent lawsuits like these would be incentivized and become more common, because Section 230 would no longer provide a barrier against their use to legally compel intermediaries to remove lawful speech.

A recent Section 230 case called Hassel v. Bird illustrates how a broad injunctive relief carveout to the law that would apply to default judgments would incentivize censorship of protected user speech. In Hassel, a lawyer sued a user of Yelp (Bird) who gave her law office a bad review, claiming defamation. The court never ruled on whether the speech was defamatory, but because the reviewer did not defend the lawsuit, the trial judge entered a default judgment against the reviewer, ordering the removal of the post.  Section 230 prevented a court from ordering Yelp to remove the post. 

Despite the potential for litigants to abuse the SAFE Tech Act’s injunctive relief carveout, the bill contains no guardrails for online intermediaries hosting legitimate speech targeted for removal. As it stands, the injunctive relief exception to Section 230 poses a real danger to legitimate speech. 

In Conclusion, For Safer Tech, Look Beyond Section 230

This only scratches the surface of the SAFE Tech Act. But the bill’s shotgun approach to amending Section 230, and the broadness of its language, make it impossible to support as it stands. 

If legislators take issue with deceptive advertisers, they should use existing laws to protect users from them. Instead of making sweeping changes to Section 230, they should update antitrust law to stop the flood of mergers and acquisitions that have made competition in Big Tech an illusion, creating much of the problems we see in the first place. If they want to make Big Tech more responsive to the concerns of consumers, they should pass a strong consumer data privacy law with a robust private right of action.

If they disagree with the way that large companies like Facebook benefit from Section 230, they should carefully consider that changes to Section 230 will mostly burden smaller platforms and entrench the large companies that can absorb or adapt to the new legal landscape (large companies continue to support amendments to Section 230, even as those companies simultaneously push back against substantive changes that actually seek to protect users, and therefore harm their bottom line). Addressing Big Tech’s surveillance-based business models can’t, and shouldn’t, be done through amendments to Section 230—but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. 

It’s absolutely a problem that just a few tech companies wield such immense control over what speakers and messages are allowed online. And it’s a problem that those same companies fail to enforce their own policies consistently or offer users meaningful opportunities to appeal bad moderation decisions. But this bill would not create a fairer system.

#MonthOfMaking is back in The MagPi 103!

Hey folks, Rob from The MagPi here! I hope you’ve been doing well. Despite how it feels, a brand-new March is just around the corner. Here at The MagPi, we like to celebrate March with our annual #MonthOfMaking event, where we want to motivate you to get making.

A MonthOfMaking project: Someone wearing a wearable tech project featuring LEDs, a two-digit LED matrix, and a tablet screen. The person is high-fiving someone who is out of view.
You could make tech you can wear

But what should I make?

Making what? Anything you want. Flex your creative building skills with some programming, or circuity, or woodworking, metalwork, knitting, baking, photography, and whatever else you’ve been wanting to try out. Just make it, and share it with the hashtag #MonthOfMaking.

A MonthOfMaking project: a wildlife camera camouflaged in branches
You could make something to hide in nature while you capture… nature

In The MagPi 103 we have a big feature on alternative ways you can make — at least alternative to what we usually cover in the magazine. From sewing and embroidery to recycling and animation, we hope you’ll be inspired to try something new.

Try something new with Raspberry Pi Pico

I’ve got a few projects lined up myself, including some Raspberry Pi Pico stuff I’ve been mulling over.

A MonthOfMaking project: a homemade chandelier consisting of glass bottles and an LED ring
You could make a chandelier light fitting out of drinks bottles?!

Speaking of: we also show you some easy Raspberry Pi Pico projects to celebrate its recent release! You’ll discover all the ways you can get started with and learn more about Raspberry Pi’s first microcontroller.

All this and our usual selection of articles on weather maps, on-air lights, meme generators, hardware reviews, and much more is packed into issue 103!

A MonthOfMaking project: two Nintendo Game Boys, one of them hacked with two extra buttons and a colour display
Maybe you could tinker with some old tech

Get The MagPi 103 now

You can grab the brand-new issue right now online from the Raspberry Pi Press store, or via our app on Android or iOS. You can also pick it up from supermarkets and newsagents, but make sure you do so safely while following all your local guidelines.

magpi magazine cover issue 103

Finally, there’s also a free PDF you can download. Good luck during the #MonthOfMaking, folks! I’ll see y’all online.

The post #MonthOfMaking is back in The MagPi 103! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Bikelangelo is a water-dispensing graffiti bicycle trailer

Inspired by persistence of vision (POV) projects, Sagarrabanana built a system that incrementally dispenses water as pixels on a flat surface, creating ephemeral dot matrix messages/images. This so-called “Bikelangelo” device is towed by a bicycle for ultra-mobile marking, and uses a pressurized tank for fluid storage.

As he pedals, a series of seven valve open and close under Arduino Nano control. A Hall-effect sensor allows it to dispense accurately based on the bike’s speed, and a Bluetooth phone connection via an HC-05 module is implemented for text input on the go.

You can see Bikelangelo in action in the quick clip below, and more information about the project – including two longer videos in Spanish – is available in Sagarrabanana’s write-up.

Going hands-on with STEM during the pandemic

This article was written by Valentina Chinnici, Arduino Education Product Manager.

The last year has clearly been challenging for educators around the world due to the pandemic. Yet despite these difficult times, educators and students haven’t stopped getting hands-on and experimenting with STEM.

But how is it possible to create a systematic environment for student ideas through scientific observation when the science lab is no longer accessible?

It’s down to creativity and innovation, which haven’t been put on hold even during a pandemic. Teachers have had to adapt quickly to this fast-changing environment, and technologies like Arduino have supported this adaptation, providing educators with flexible tools to keep experimenting from home. 

Arduino is committed to making STEM accessible for all students, with free tools and resources like the Arduino Science Journal app to collect data, leveraging either your mobile device or external sensors connected to Arduino, or a portable science lab for your remote needs (now on sale).

Teachers can also take advantage of different boards to experiment with science, which is what UK-based physics teacher, Alan Bates, did. Bates created an experiment to demonstrate the phenomenon known as the conservation of momentum, published in the February edition of The Physics Teacher.

Bates combined an Arduino Uno Rev3 and a PASCO Smart Cart to create a movable rubber band launcher to investigate the conservation of momentum, and the energy transferred by the system as the potential energy of the rubber band is released. The Arduino board was used instead to activate the motion releasing the rubber band, and consequently, the cart.

The launcher was made with a wooden stick, a nail, and the rubber band, placed on a low-friction track, and mounted on top of a PASCO smart cart base. Masses are added to the cart every three measurements of recoil velocity. 

Thanks to this scientific investigation, Bates was able to demonstrate and verify that, “elastic potential energy is not only transferred into kinetic energy, but also into other types of energy that include thermal and sound energy.”

For more information on the findings and analysis of the Conservation of Momentum with Dual Technologies, get your copy of the February edition of The Physics Teacher.

This program can tell if you paid attention to text

When you read a book, or… other website, you may find your mind wandering from time to time. This isn’t always a big deal, but if you want to ensure that you’re getting every last bit of information on a page, YouTuber “I made this” may have the perfect solution.

His “program that could tell if you are paying attention” employs eye tracking to see where on the page you’re looking, and correlates this with input from a NeuroSky sensor. Conveniently, the particular unit used here (salvaged from an old Star Wars toy) outputs an attention value from 0-100. An Arduino board reads the EEG directly and passes data along to the computer, which then highlights text green for “paid attention,” and red for “not paying attention.”

Cops Using Music to Try to Stop Being Filmed Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Someone tries to livestream their encounters with the police, only to find that the police started playing music. In the case of a February 5 meeting between an activist and the Beverly Hills Police Department, the song of choice was Sublime’s “Santeria.” The police may not got no crystal ball, but they do seem to have an unusually strong knowledge about copyright filters.

The timing of music being played when a cop saw he was being filmed was not lost on people. It seemed likely that the goal was to trigger Instagram’s over-zealous copyright filter, which would shut down the stream based on the background music and not the actual content. It’s not an unfamiliar tactic, and it’s unfortunately one based on the reality of how copyright filters work.

Copyright filters are generally more sensitive to audio content than audiovisual content. That sensitivity causes real problems for people performing, discussing, or reviewing music online. It’s a problem of mechanics. It is easier for filters to find a match just on a piece of audio material compared to a full audiovisual clip. And then there is the likelihood that a filter is merely checking to see if a few seconds of a video file seems to contain a few seconds of an audio file.

It’s part of why playing music is a better way of getting a video stream you don’t want seen shut down. (The other part is that playing music is easier than walking around with a screen playing a Disney film in its entirety. Much fun as that would be.)

The other side of the coin is how difficult filters make it for musicians to perform music that no one owns. For example, classical musicians filming themselves playing public domain music—compositions that they have every right to play, as they are not copyrighted—attract many matches. This is because the major rightsholders or tech companies have put many examples of copyrighted performances of these songs into the system. It does not seem to matter whether the video shows a different performer playing the song—the match is made on audio alone. This drives lawful use of material offline.

Another problem is that people may have licensed the right to use a piece of music or are using a piece of free music that another work also used. And if that other work is in the filter’s database, it’ll make a match between the two. This results in someone who has all the rights to a piece of music being blocked or losing income. It’s a big enough problem that, in the process of writing our whitepaper on YouTube’s copyright filter, Content ID, we were told that people who had experienced this problem had asked for it to be included specifically.

Filters are so sensitive to music that it is very difficult to make a living discussing music online. The difficulty of getting music clips past Content ID explains the dearth of music commentators on YouTube. It is common knowledge among YouTube creators, with one saying “this is why you don’t make content about music.”

Criticism, commentary, and education of music are all areas that are legally protected by fair use. Using parts of a thing you are discussing to show what you mean is part of effective communication. And while the law does not make fair use of music more difficult to prove than any other kind of work, filters do.

YouTube’s filter does something even more insidious than simply taking down videos, though. When it detects a match, it allows the label claiming ownership to take part or all of the money that the original creator would have made. So a video criticizing a piece of music ends up enriching the party being critiqued. As one music critic explained:

Every single one of my videos will get flagged for something and I choose not to do anything about it, because all they’re taking is the ad money. And I am okay with that, I’d rather make my videos the way they are and lose the ad money rather than try to edit around the Content ID because I have no idea how to edit around the Content ID. Even if I did know, they’d change it tomorrow. So I just made a decision not to worry about it.

This setup is also how a ten-hour white noise video ended up with five copyright claims against it. This taking-from-the-poor-and-giving-to-the-rich is a blatantly absurd result, but it’s the status quo on much of YouTube.

A group, like the police, who is particularly tech-savvy could easily figure out which songs result in videos being removed rather than have the money stolen. Internet creators talk on social media about the issues they run into and from whom. Some rightsholders are infamously controlling and litigious.

Copyright should not be a fast-track to getting speech removed that you do not like. The law is meant to encourage creativity by giving artists a limited period of exclusive rights to their creations. It is not a way to make money off of criticism or a loophole to be exploited by authorities.

CO2 Monitoring As an Anti-Covid19 Measure #ShowAndTell #Feather #COVID19

Pierre Carles demonstrates a portable CO2 monitor which can provide an air quality measurement, perhaps an environment which may indicate that the COVID-19 virus can to lurk in.

In this tutorial, we try to address an issue that is both simple and very complex: the efficient ventilation of closed spaces occupied by people. SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for Covid19, is considered to be an airborne virus, spreading (among other ways) through respiratory aerosols (microscopic droplets that are expired as a normal byproduct of respiration). Outdoor or in largely open spaces, the best mitigating strategy against aerial contamination remains distancing: maintaining a distance of one to two meters between people is considered to be an easy way to safeguard against virus exchange through aerosols.

By contrast, in closed spaces, respiratory aerosols have been shown to travel over large distances and to diffuse uniformly in whole rooms when given enough time. Under such circumstances, distancing loses part of its efficiency, and the breathable air in the whole room is at risk of becoming a contamination vector.

Supplies:

See the full build in the Instructables guide here.

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Loomia Components are Heating up the Wearable Space

There is something about wearable projects that causes me to utterly forget my technical limits and computational boundaries and dream up the most extravagantly fanciful, unrealistic projects. The fact that I can wear tech is so exciting that I design the most fantastic, impractical projects possible, and when I begin to build it out, the roadblocks that I encounter are immense. Some of them have to do with power, some have to do with the balancing making the project IoT-based while keeping the footprint small, and most have to do with continuity in construction and extending the electrical circuit throughout the wearable.

Part of the problem is me letting my ideas get ahead of reality, but part of the issue is that these challenges accompany any wearable project. No matter how complex the project gets, power, construction, and connectivity will always be difficult to successfully design while optimizing for the smallest footprint possible.

While there are some products that make building wearables easier, they still don’t really eliminate the specific challenges specific to wearables. But this shouldn’t deter us from playing within this sector. Wearables are at the intersection of so many industries and can be used to link technology and fashion, furniture, aerospace, kitchen tools – really anything! Considering how the world is moving toward a data-driven model, in which the inanimate objects around us constantly collect, provide and utilize data to make our lives better, it isn’t a surprise that we want to gain more information from the soft surfaces around us. We just need it to be easier to do.

New York-based electronic textile firm Loomia has created a series of circuits for soft goods that makes building wearables exponentially easier. They’ve built the Loomia Electronic Layer, or LEL, which is basically an embedded electrical circuit laminated onto fabric. Instead of building everything around a breadboard, the LEL is designed to make product-like prototypes that seamlessly integrate into whatever surface material you’re working with – all you have to do is peel the backing and it can stick to anything. It enables light, heat and pressure to be integrated into fabrics. Of course this ease of construction and usability has me back to dreaming up projects in the wearable-world, but this time it’s just easier!

The Project

One of Loomia’s components that stood out in particular to me is the 5V-7.2V heater. Using two LiPo batteries in series, it can warm up within 60 seconds and top out after two minutes. I’ve never seen a heater that is so easy to begin using, and that can be integrated on nearly any type of material.


Loomia 5V - 7.2V Heater

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Loomia 5V – 7.2V Heater

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The 5V – 7.2V heater is made to work with an off the shelf, 5V battery pack or two lipo batteries in series (just make sure b…


$52.00

Here in Colorado in the dead of winter, I’m a fan of all things heat. I often can’t go anywhere without my puffy jacket, but sometimes I want to wear other jackets that just don’t provide the same type of insulation. The Loomia heating pad is perfect for solving this problem!

I can connect up the heating pad with other Loomia components using the interconnect system – all that is required is slightly trimming the connection pad – and then soldering the buses together like any other electrical connection. All LELs can be soldered together quickly like this!

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The code itself is run off an Arduino and is connected to a temperature sensor via Qwiic. When the temperature sensor hits a threshold (in my case 32 degrees F), it triggers the heater to turn on. So, the initial voltage is set to zero, and if triggered, it increments the voltage to tap out at 255.

Final Thoughts

Sweet! I’ve got an integrated heating pad in my blazer now, and I didn’t even have to spend hours thinking about construction. The Loomia components make building wearables seamless, and really, can elevate any prototyping project and make it look like a final design.

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The possibilities are endless with these revolutionary soft circuits…I’m considering building an interactive pillow-case alarm clock with the pressure sensor next. What kind of projects does this technology enable you to do now?

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Victory! EFF Scores Another Win for the Public’s Right of Access against Patent Owner Fighting for Secrecy

Patents generate profits for private companies, but their power comes from the government, and in this country, the government’s power comes from the people. That means the rights patents confer, regardless of who exercises them, are fundamentally public in nature.

Patent owners have no right to keep their patents rights secret. The whole point of the patent system is to encourage people to disclose information about their inventions to the public by giving certain exclusive rights to those who do. But that doesn’t stop private companies from trying to keep information about their patents secret—even when their disputes to go court, where the public has a right to know what happens.

A recent decision by a federal court in a long-running transparency push by EFF affirmed the public’s right to access important information about a patent dispute. For more than two years, we have been working to vindicate the public’s right of access to important sealed court documents in Uniloc v. Apple. The sealed documents supported Apple’s argument that the case should be dismissed because Uniloc lost ownership of the patents when it sued Apple, and thus lost the right to bring the suit. But as filed, the documents were so heavily redacted that it was impossible to understand them. So EFF intervened to oppose the sealing requests on the public’s behalf—and we won. When Uniloc asked for reconsideration, the court refused—and we won again. When Uniloc appealed, the Federal Circuit overwhelmingly upheld the district court’s decision—and for the third time, we won.

EFF hoped that the string of victories would mark the end of our intervention and that the parties would promptly file properly-redacted documents as required at last. But they did not do so.

In October 2020, after more than three months had passed since the Federal Circuit’s ruling, we discovered Apple had filed a new motion to dismiss against Uniloc. Again, the motion and exhibits were so heavily redacted that it was impossible to know what Apple’s argument for dismissal was. So EFF moved to intervene, challenging Uniloc’s failure to comply with the Federal Circuit’s ruling as well as its new failure to submit proper sealing requests. The district court agreed, and for the fourth time, we won.

That EFF had to intervene underscores the problem of excessive sealing in patent cases between private companies. No matter how much they disagree on other issues, otherwise-warring sides often have a mutual interest in wanting to keep information about the litigation secret. When that happens, both sides are motivated to make excessive requests to seal court records—but not to oppose them. If there’s no opposition, there’s no guarantee a judge will weigh the request against the public’s right of access. To make sure that happens, EFF often intervenes in patent cases to vindicate the public’s access rights.

In its December 2020 decision, the district court did not mince words, excoriating both parties for their casual attitude toward the public’s right of access. The court emphasized the perils of “collusive oversealing,” which happens in cases such as this where “both parties seek to seal more information than they have any right to and so do not police each other’s indiscretion.” Although Apple did not request secrecy, it had ample opportunity to challenge Uniloc’s sealing requests, but “opted instead to grab its December 4 victory on the standing issue and head for the hills.” Seeing Apple and Uniloc’s mutual interest in secrecy, the court realized that “[w]ithout EFF, the public’s right of access will have no advocate,” and granted our motion for intervention with thanks.

The court then denied all of Uniloc’s sealing requests—including the requests to seal the names and amounts paid by Uniloc’s licensees. In doing so, the court emphasized the public’s right to information about U.S. patents in addition to the right to access court records. As it explained: “a patent is a public grant of rights. . . . The public has every right to account for all its tenants, all its sub-tenants, and (more broadly) anyone holding even a slice of the public grant.” It also emphasized the public’s “interest in inspecting the valuation of the patent rights . . . particularly given secrecy so often plays to the patentee’s advantage in forcing bloated royalties.” We commend the court for recognizing the gravity of the public’s right—and need—for information about the ownership, licensing, and valuation of U.S. patents.

We hoped this victory would convince Uniloc to admit defeat and change its sealing practices, but it has decided to appeal its loss to the Federal Circuit again. EFF’s fight for access to Uniloc’s licensing secrets will continue. In the meantime, we hope this decision will encourage judges and litigants to enforce the public’s right of access, especially when the adversarial process collapses.