GBC students win prize for exploring infrared technology as wearable medical treatment
Nine students from George Brown College (GBC) won the top prize in the Kent State University Fashion/Tech Hackathon, which took place from Jan. 25 to 27.
GBC’s Team Delirium, won the Most Market/Venture Potential mentorship award for their therapeutic garment prototype.
The team consisted of Dana Newman who was responsible for design and manufacturing, Riley Ford who did marketing, Luis Matute who worked on the idea, concept, design, manufacture, and research, and Christopher Benton and Revathi Varatharajan, both of whom took on coding, manufacturing, and IT concept.
Together, they were able to have an interdisciplinary approach to making a functional prototype.
Being from various programs offered at the college, the team’s diverse expertise proved advantageous according to Milan Shahani, a professor at GBC’s school of fashion who mentored the team.
Matute, a fashion management student, previously studied medicine and felt it was natural to apply this knowledge to the prototype he had in mind.
The goal was to build infrared technology into the 3D fabric, with the insight that infrared light can heal those who suffer from muscle pain.
Infrared light is known for its therapeutic advantages, with one being, it is non-invasive, according to Matute.
“It can help you improve your bone healing process much faster, and it can help your muscles relax better,” Matute explained, adding that “it also can actually increase the production of melanin that is crucial for you to have a good sleep.“
“There’s no gender restriction for using this garment,” she added, “There’s no age restriction. There’s no place (restriction) because you can probably use it while you are working.”
Electroluminescent (EL) wire was used in the prototype, which had to be both appealing and functional.
“They had to interweave the wires inside so the wire goes through the fabric, so there were three layers. The top layer, bottom layer, and in between there, was the wire that created the infrared light,” said Steffek.
They also engineered the prototype to be used wirelessly, so that you could access therapy simply through the use of a phone.
While infrared therapy does exist, it has not been incorporated into clothing for use, with the exception being for animals.
“Whether you win the prize or not, if that concept actually finds a niche in the market, that would be enough for me,” said Matute.