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Burst Details

Keith Kirkland Founded a Wearable Tech Company That Lets People Communicate Through Touch

|
5 months ago

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Our guest this week is Keith Kirkland the CO founder and CEO of where works a wearable technology startup based in New York City. Not sure what wearable technology is at one point. Neither was Keith. When he was designing handbags at coach he had no idea that one day he'd start a company that would create a wearable haptic navigation device for the the blind and visually impaired? Don't worry we'll explain what all that means by the way if you listen to last week's episode with Stephanie Harare You'll Remember hearing about new inc an incubator for creators who are working at the intersection of Art Design and technology and fun fact. Keith's company is part of that. Incubator key story is A truly inspiring example of the impact that we human ben diagrams can have when we follow what feels authentic to us even when there's no through line incite and his his work shines and important light on designing for inclusivity. So let's meet Kenya. Let's do it. What is so thick means of or relating to the sense of touch? Basically like optic is for is for the skin and so basically we're working on as we build products and experiences that use your skin as a communications channel right now with the proliferation screen. Based devices everything is using your is MHM Right and we were looking at him. Like how can we get people out of their phones and back into the real world. Oh we can give them some of this information that you don't necessarily need to stare at a screen in order to get and so we started to look at. What types of information can we offload from the visual Channel To kinda give people more like in their world experience but give them the information that they need. So what kind of information can you offload from the visual Shell. So we're starting with a use case of navigation. I have two co founders and we all walked into this door of being interested rested in half digs through different ways. My Personal Dura was. I was spending time. I was at proud at the time doing a Master's program in industrial design and I was trying to find way to teach movement without an instructor being present. I was looking to try to expand movement economy and that kind of boil down to the suit that would eventually allow person to download John. Lewis In the suit with Keith data. Continue that road to build this suit and if so where can I actually. So we're doing right now is actually the foundation for me. What could potentially become with? The suit was envisioned to be. If you look at the suit like the biggest challenges were around it was that lake. All the technology existed to build the suit today. You know you have motion capture data to know where your motion is and you could do motion caption data for an expert to know what your motion should be. You can scale from their body to your body because most of us have the same number of joints in the same places cases being humans. Roughly roughly you know not say that super loosely. Accessibility is ridiculously important. Also you know like generally we can scale but the biggest part that was missing was if I want you to raise raged risk two inches off of the table using vibration. How can I tell you to do that? There was no language to communicate information through touch with. And so I. When I finished my thesis I was like Wow? You can do well this by without this language. This whole thing is kind of useless so let me go and try to work on building a language to communicate information with that could eventually help a person the potentially learn Kung Fu or any form of movement you're co-founders came to this through different channels. How did you all meet each other and realized that you were interested in in this same question of sharing information through touch yes? Oh my co-founder young and we were actually classmates in massive industrial design program at Pratt and so we we came in in the same class. We did three years together. I ended up going away for a year studying in Japan and in London at Yale University in the row. codge Avar Bureau College Young stayed in the program here and I came back and finished my third year out so we did our thesis together. Kevin was a really close friend of Yong's and hemming young had did joint these together but Kevin and I also serendipitous Lee ended up working at the Metropolitan Museum of art together. We were both fellows at at the media lab there and it's a now defunct program but before what it was was they basically invited technologist kind of reimagined. The museum experience the project I worked on was basically. I walked into my thesis with this idea of design slash fashion technology and movement. And in my thesis. It became a downloading suit when I walked onto the same idea because I was like I need all my life to be authentic consistent and at the mat we came out was replicating getting garments from the costume to Putting them on three d models giving them a sense of movement so that people could understand how the dresses and garments moved on people while people were moving because I felt like the the clothing experience was ridiculously divorced because everyone knows not touch mccaw so but you know like the VNA nate dress. You WanNa touch it because we have different experience you know with clothing art hanging on walls. How can we give people that sense of movement and so having having and I both worked on independent projects? There I'm but we worked. You know we run a cohort together and we all ended up at research. Center called the Digital Humanities Research Center it was like a playground for people to come together postgraduate and does work interesting projects. And that's where we decided to join together and and bill ware works and focus on