News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hennes Paynter Communications

Akron Children's Hospital

Don Drumm Studios

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology

Exploradio: Wearable tech and fashion innovation
Students compete for cash in a 24 hour hackathon that combines computer hardwear with wearable style
This story is part of a special series.

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Slideshow: A 3-D scan displays the measurements of a participant in the Kent State University fashion tech hackathon. Students from across Ohio spent 24 hours developing products that integrate computer hardware with stylish wearables.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

You’ve heard of Google Glass and other ways electronics are being integrated into fashion design.  Earlier this month a group of students at Kent State University spent 24 hours trying to develop the next breakthrough in wearable tech.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair takes us inside a competition that combines style and innovation.

Exploradio: Wearable tech

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:40)

Cross pollination across disciplines
Kevin Wolfgang, manager of Kent State University’s TechStyle lab, introduces the two dozen competitors to an array of raw materials.

He holds up sample of rip stop nylon, sportswear fabric, palms of gloves, rubber, "so if you want to use that, have at it…”

There’s also a pile of circuit boards, LED lights, and computer modules.  It’s a fashion / technology ‘hackathon’ sponsored by the student hacking club Hacksu, the KSU fashion school, and Blackstone LaunchPad, a private, on-campus business development franchise.

Wolfgang says computer engineers, software designers, fashion students, and marketing majors gather in a, "meeting of the minds to see what we can create.”

Wolfgang says the idea behind the competition is to spur cross pollination across disciplines.

Students from Kent State, Bowling Green, Case Western, Ohio State and beyond form teams and brainstorm overnight.  The challenge is to invent a new wearable tech product and an accompanying business plan.  The top prize is $2,000 in cash.

The cleavage cam, Glow shirt, and Miracle Sole 
Marketing major Christopher Jones and his team are already crafting a concept.

Jones describes a product that imbeds a camera into a bra.  He says the idea is to track people’s eye movements, "and when somebody glances down at a woman’s cleavage it will instantaneously take a picture and then post it to an Instagram page.  The software will assemble a a reel of awkward photos, "of people caught red-handed staring at their cleavage.”    

Meanwhile, Lindsay Pizzurro and her team are sketching out a safer biking shirt that people might actually want to wear.

She says for night-time biking, instead of wearing an orange reflective vest, their product is more stylish.  Pizzuro describes, "a form-fitting Under Armor-looking long-sleeve shirt with flashing lights so cars will see you.”  

Working alone is Kent State physics major Mitchell Gillespie. He says he’s never even sewn before.

Gillespie is putting sensors into the sole of a running shoe to help runners identify possible problems with their form.  He says pressure sensors detect where a runner’s foot hits the ground.  

Gillespie, himself a runner, says hitting the ground with your heel first is not really good running form, "because it sends a lot of pressure and shock to your knee."  But his device can detect when you land flat footed, which he says is, "good running form.”

He had to invent the sensors from scratch from available materials.

He’s also got a name for it -  The Miracle Sole.

Fashion, technology, and wearable hardware
Charles Stack is co-founder of Flashstarts, a Cleveland based business accelerator.  He’s at the hackathon for a different reason, he's looking for talent. 

Stack says it’s only natural that we would want to bring computing power closer to the skin by integrating technology with fashion.

He says as the computer has migrated from the desktop to the home to the pocket to the wrist to the eyeglasses,"that’s an increasing trend that you’re going to see.”

It’s a trend that Kent State fashion technology professor Margarita Benitez sees throughout history.

She says fashion has always been at the forefront of technology, "so it’s natural to try and find new ways of creating and new ways of expressing itself as well.”

The final judging
It’s the next day and after a sleepless night, the cleavage cam team’s Christopher Jones shares the frustrations of generations of entrepreneurs.

He says the last 24 hours have been rough, and that despite high hopes and dreams for the product, "we’ve hit so many roadblocks.”

They call their product Brava. 

Now, after five minute presentations from each of the 15 teams, it’s time for the judges’ decision. 

An air-cooled, vented jacket takes third.  The Glow team and its light-up biking shirt takes second, and fashion school director J.R. Campbell names the top design, Mitchell Gillespie’s Miracle Sole.

The judges liked his knowledge of the market and of his potential customers, along with his his functional prototype.

But when I ask Gillespie whether he’s going to take his design to the next level, he’s more ambivalent.  The business can wait, for now he's planning to spend his winnings on travel. 

Either way, one of the judges, NorTech's Rebecca Bagley thinks the winning concept is really the hackathon itself, bringing engineers and software designers together with the fashion school to create a spark of innovation in wearable tech.
(Click image for larger view.)

Related Links & Resources
Shifting Paradigms: Fashion Technology at the Kent State Museum

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Support for Exploradio
provided by:

Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

Great Lakes conference considers a range of threats
Your article states "Studies discovered over half of all PAHs found in the Great Lakes region come from a single source: Coal tar sealants.". I'm curious to whi...

ODOT awards Kent-based Davey Research Group nearly $50,000 to improve highway landscapes
This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer's money. Good for only Davey Tree and their cronies in the State government. It takes $50k to figure out the way to save...

Canton: another Northeast Ohio city is planning its comeback
Historic Ridgewood and the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority have no seats at the table. Very flawed right out of the gate. Ridgewood pays a huge percentage...

Property owners oppose a wind farm in Northern Ohio
Here is a link, exposing the connivance of the fossil fuel industry, in trying to prevent us from moving away from their outdated, filthy, and expensive forms o...

A new industry in Ohio aims to repurpose river sediment
and where do those PCB's end up??the story never says

A safe space: How Northeast Ohio colleges try to fight sexual assault
Very good and thorough job on a very sensitive topic!

Akron police shoot and kill a man following a North Hill robbery
Was on scene when they was trying to bring him back to life he looked dead there before he ever got into ambulance

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University