Two University of Rhode Island students won top awards at a national smart-textiles hackathon in October: one for a toy to help autistic children, the other for a motorcycle jacket.
Competitors at the the E-Textiles Hackathon Design Challenge at the Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in New Orleans had 12 hours over two days to conceptualize, design and build products using smart textiles. Joshua Gyllinsky ’17, who is pursuing his master’s degree in computer science and statistics and will seek his doctorate in URI’s Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering Department, was on the first-place team that created a toy—a fabric cube—for autistic children who are nonverbal. Sections of the cube heat up when touched, giving the children a strong sensory experience. The next version could be programmed with lights, sound and even smell.
Mohammadreza Abtahi, M.S. ’14, who is pursuing his doctorate in the Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering Department, and his team won second place for creating a smart motorcycle jacket. “It alerts drivers on the street,” says Abtahi. “We used microcontrollers and different kinds of sensors to turn on LEDs as left or right turn indicators, a stop sign and a flashing signal. All the sensors and LEDs were sewn to the fabric by conductive threads instead of wires, and the two-layer design of the jacket covers all the materials, making it look like a regular jacket.” •