The pager, the dumb phone, and the PDA were all replaced with the smart phone, which was followed by smart watches and google glass. So what’s next in the world of tech devices that help us communicate and connect with the world on a mobile level? According to Women You Should Know Alina Balean and Rucha Patwardhan, it’s a hoodie… a really smart one!
Over the 2014 spring semester, the two NYU ITP grad students set out on a mission to explore the ways fabric can be used with electronics. Halfway through Alina’s semester, she took a course called “Towers of Power” and learned how to DIY a cell phone.
“Letting those two concepts simmer, we quickly knew that we wanted to build an object that isn’t a piece of glass that lives in your jeans. The smart hoodie was born,” Alina explains on her personal site.
To construct their portable, wearable phone, “the first switch was put into the left sleeve and sent messages to my Facebook account – notifying my friends that I was in class,” Alina shared. “After that we tested switches with the hoodie and other sleeve. Gestures that used to require your fingers on a tiny piece of glass now are translated into everyday movement, buttons no more.”
She continued, “Playing with the idea of a fun cell phone device we programmed the hoodie to send preset messages to my mother, notifying her of what I’m up to while at school. If I rolled up my left sleeve, it tells her I’m in class and can’t talk; if I put my hoodie on, it tells her that I miss her; if I push the right sleeve, it lets her know I am free and can chat online.”
“If I rolled up my left sleeve, it tells her I’m in class and can’t talk; if I put my hoodie on, it tells her that I miss her…”
Alina and Rucha see other iterations of their hoodie as a safety device for individuals traveling alone, for children, or others, like special agents, who need to communicate discreetly. We cannot wait to see Carrie Mathison in a Smart Hoodie on Homeland.
For the two designing women, this project represents the possibilities of just what a phone can be and do. Alina says, “The future of communication is in our hands… or arms, not just our fingers.”
PS – Shouldn’t Mark Zuckerberg, the bazillionaire poster-boy for hoodies, give these innovative women the funding to make their idea a reality? We think so.