SF-based Betabrand and Otherlab have taken software developed with defense-department funds and turned it into a cool little anorak sure to wind up on the backs of all the Mission District hipsters, who, like totally hate America's military industrial complex, man.
The DARPA Hoodie is a computer-generated garment built to use as little material as possible. Available on Betabrand's Web site, it was designed after Jonathan Bachrach and Saul Griffith, of Otherlab, won a grant from DARPA, the defense department's tech research arm, to come up with algorithms that could convert 3-D objects into 2-D patterns. The original idea was to make programmable matter, ie. real, live Terminator 2s.
Now, it's being used to make real, live fashion (perhaps a more sinister goal, depending on whom you ask). How the hoodie works: Bachrach and Griffith started by modeling the torso of an average 6-foot-tall male in 3-D. Then they built a jacket form around it, using algorithms to generate a minimum set of panels (12) that became the manufacturers? blueprint. It's basically a dressmaker's pattern, but more precise; because the material is mathematically modeled, nothing gets wasted.
As for the aesthetic, the panels create zips and slashes everywhere that look pretty stylish -- for the SF tech-dork set, anyway. Betabrand compares it to "the love child of Spiderman and a stealth fighter."
Obviously, the software has applications beyond the DARPA Hoodie. As Bachrach tells it: "The tool creates the opportunity for greatly lowering the time of manufacturing and for creating a unique algorithmic design quality. ... [T]he automatic panelizer opens up the possibility for custom clothing..."
[Hat-tip to BoingBoing; images courtesy of Betabrand]