Hazardous environments such as disaster sites and conflict zones present many challenges for emergency response. But the new field of functional fabrics — materials modified to incorporate various sensors, connect to the internet, or serve multiple purposes, among other things — holds promise for novel solutions.
Over the weekend, MIT became a hotbed for developing those solutions. A three-day hackathon on campus brought together students and researchers from MIT and around Boston who developed functional fabric concepts to solve major issues facing soldiers in combat or training, first responders, victims and workers in refugee camps, and many others.
Two winning teams earned grand prizes of up to $15,000, courtesy of MD5. Remote Triage, formed by MIT students, designed an automated triage system for field medics, consisting of sensor-laden clothing that detects potential injury and a web platform that prioritizes care. The other team, Security Blanket, designed a double-sided, multipurpose blanket for people displaced from their homes, based on an idea from a Drexel University student.
The event was hosted by the MIT Innovation Initiative, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) Institute, and MD5, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and a network of national research universities.