Defense Department Hosts Hackathon for Advanced Functional Fabrics in Challenging Environments
CAMBRIDGE, MA - On Friday, July 28, MD5, the National Security Technology Accelerator, partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Innovation Initiative and the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) to host a hackathon focused on Advanced Functional Fabrics in Challenging Environments. The original concept for the event was proposed by the Joint Reserve Directorate (JRD) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) to bring together practitioners, technologists, and the military to build product prototypes that incorporate functional fabrics as part of a system that addresses emergency response in challenging environments.
The event was held in the MIT Media Lab, and involved 180 participants, mentors, and staff. Adam Jay Harrison, Director, MD5 and Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, Director, Laboratories Office within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering kicked off the event. A total of 23 squads comprised of students, engineers, fabric experts, and designers from throughout the U.S. and several other countries. The squads set up stations across the media lab with computers, fabrics, sewing machines, and even virtual reality devices to begin constructing their prototypes and completing their designs. Throughout the weekend the JRD members engaged with and mentored the hackathon squads and shared their field expertise relevant to the squad concepts.
At the culmination of the 3-day event, judges, who are experienced DoD leaders and industry science and technology experts, listened as 10 squads pitched their final concepts in five minutes. The presentations were dynamic, well thought out, and innovative with ideas spanning military and humanitarian disaster relief problem sets. The judges announced that the top two squads would be offered opportunities for concept development to include funding of up to $15,000. The top prizes were awarded to the Remote Triage and Security Blanket squads.
Squad Remote Triage was a team of six MIT students who designed an automated triage system for field medics. Their concept consisted of sensor-laden clothing to detect potential injury and included a wearable personal digital assistant interface that could prioritize care.
Squad Security Blanket was a team of 10 led by a Drexel University student. The team designed a double-sided, multipurpose blanket for people displaced from their homes during disaster scenarios. The blanket could function as a warm, breathable blanket, a convertible tote, and a reflective covering. Additionally it would have properties to prevent the spread of infectious skin diseases. The team provided a prototype demonstration during the event finale.
For more information about the event and squads that participated and won, please visit: https://cambridgehack.md5.net/home