As a mechanical engineer for NASA who was part of the team responsible for putting the Curiosity Rover on Mars, Mark Rober had a pretty cool job. And indeed he did, but in 2011 he came up with a Halloween costume that would lead him to take on the arguably cooler job of mobile app developer and costume designer.
Two years ago, Rober made a costume that involved strapping two iPads to his chest and back, and then entering those iPads into a FaceTime chat with one another. The result is a costume where the wearer appears to have a hole in himself, which we have to admit is a pretty creative (if a little grim) use of mobile technology. (Rober made a YouTube video about it at the time, which has since acquired well over 3 million views.)
In his spare time, Rober and friends started a side business called Digital Dudz. Customers would purchase one of several t-shirts, download the Digital Dudz free mobile app, and then place the phone in a special pocket inside of the t-shirt in such a way that its illustrations would come alive with rapidly moving eyeballs, beating hearts, etc. If you’ve never seen one of those shirts in person, the effect can be a little … destabilizing, which is what most people are going for when making a Halloween costume.
Of course, everyone keeps telling us that wearable tech is the Next Big Thing, and indeed, according to a report published by Juniper research, it’s expected to become a 19 billion dollar industry by 2018. However, when most people think of wearable tech, they’re thinking of gadgets like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, or the inevitable iWatch, devices that will bring a new functionality to mobile technology.
Until Rober’s costume designs went mainstream, however, no one was considering the whimsical, purely aesthetic possibilities of wearable tech. There are hundreds of thousands of mobile apps in the various stores, so some might be tempted to think that everything’s already been done. But if Rober’s designs and mobile apps are any indication, with a little creativity and a lot of work, there’s still ample opportunity for mobile app developers.