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Making Defense Tech Fashionable – the DARPA hoodie

The‘DARPA hoodie, clinic ’ a strangely-designed patchwork garment accented with the occasional red zipper, is made of 12 interlocking pieces of rip-resistant nylon that sew perfectly together into a hoodie with zero waste. Cooler still, it was born of an algorithm developed for DARPA’s Programmable Matter program, which seeks to make T-1000-like shape-shifting smart materials.

Programmable Matter aims to create materials that can change shape on command to form anything the user needs, like a spare part or a robot assassin. San Francisco-based engineering firm Otherlab – run by two former MIT scientists – snared some of the research money doled out by DARPA as part of the program.

They used the software to render a 3-D model of an average 6-foot man, then used it to create a pattern of flat panels that make up that shape. The software determined it could do this most efficiently with a dozen irregularly shaped panels that interlock into the precise 3-D shape of a hoodie.

Perhaps more unbelievably, this piece of military computer science turned textile is actually pretty sharp. Stylish enough, in fact, that Betabrand – the clothing designer that actually produced the hoodie – has sold between 50 and 60 of the limited run of 100 that went on sale last week. As of this posting, it appears you can still buy one for $110 from Betabrand, though we’re waiting for the next-gen version that will actually control the weather rather than just protect you from it. – [source]

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