Project Shark Tank Runway at Indiana University #WearableWednesday


Nitocris Perez is an Emerging Technology Analyst at Indiana University and she is fearless when it comes to trashing wearables on the market.

One thing I notice consistently with wearable hardware is how uncomfortable, and unfashionable it is. Especially for women. What we put on our bodies is an important expression of who we are and how we want to be seen. With the advent of wearable electronics we are entering an era where fashion and apparel, or the desire to wear something must be a consideration in consumer electronic design. I suspect we have these bulky, blocky wearables because it is being designed by and for individuals in a particular population demographic. It is not a secret there is uneven gender representation in the information technology and computer engineering industries.

We all admit this is a problem, but Nitocris is taking steps to improve the design issue starting with a program at her own university. She’s got a three pronged attack including a wearable tech fashion show, wearable tech development in the fashion design classroom and future wearable tech hackathons. She sees this whole project as a “Project Shark Tank Runway”, and is very inspired by Adafruit, because “the company offers the same idea for makers with their educational platform”. You can see the Adafruit influence in the work developed by these Indiana U students for the runway.


Check out this formal dress that uses 20 meters of EL wire to accentuate the organic edges of the skirt. The designer created the entire dress from scratch, and it is unusually non-fussy as prom dresses go, allowing the attention to go directly to the cascading curves of light. This could easily translate into a wedding dress with white EL wire.


This designer took advantage of the striped sheer fabric of a party dress with NeoPixel strips and a FLORA microcontroller, generating a woven effect of light. She also created rad shoes with NeoPixel strips mounted in the arches, which really make an impact on stage. Make a note, ladies!


One woman fell in love with the FLORAbrella, making her own version. She has future plans to create a rain sensing umbrella with the addition of  a humidity or moisture sensor. With design there is always the excitement of new ideas and improvement.


Inspired by Asian culture, this designer used EL wire to create lantern style pants, complete with an LED sequin adornment on a kimono style top. Her movement on the runway must have looked like light painting—love! Thanks to Vince Cannon for the pics, and I so wish I had been there to cheer everyone on. Nitocris has developed a great program and you should check out the Facebook page of her university’s Wearable Technology Working Group. It’s so exciting to see a curriculum inspiring students to create original designs and to consider how their hardware affects their work, both in comfort and visual appeal. This is not an easy skill set, but by attempting every facet, a student learns what it takes to create a solid tech garment. Then, once in the working world, it becomes even more clear why experts are needed in fashion design, garment construction, material design, engineering and programming. It takes all types, and that is what makes this field so interesting. If you are a fashion diva and want to explore tech, you should check out Becky Stern’s book Getting Started With Adafruit Flora. Not only will you learn about the world of stitchable microcontrollers and sensors, but you will also discover helpful tips for working with fabric. Get ready to make your one-of-a-kind outfit!

FLORA book

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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