A fashion designer, composer, artist and two bioengineers have something in common: They use personal computers to make amazing industry-changing innovations.
It’s not uncommon for a student or professional to use a trusty laptop to get through the day, but a group of forward-thinking visionaries rely on new computers to shape the future of fashion, music, visual art and medicine.
These five individuals from different walks of life explore new territory, break new ground and push past the status quo. This drive to innovate along with the help of new PC technology helps them create new works and find solutions to challenges—something celebrated in a recent campaign Dell, HP, Intel and Lenovo.
Fashion designer Sabine Seymour uses her computer to design future wearable technologies that make people feel superhuman, while classical composer Reena Esmail uses hers to write music that resonates with a new generation of listeners.
“With unprecedented, substantive innovation in the PC category, it only made sense for us to tell our story together (with these inspiring visionaries),” said Steven Fund, Chief Marketing Officer at Intel in PC Magazine.
The Fashion Designer
In Sabine Seymour’s opinion, wearable technology has a practicality problem. People need to be able to access their devices and information at all times without being weighed down or held back.
With this idea in mind, the New York City-based fashion designer, author and Moondial agency owner sought to create stylish, lightweight garments that kept people connected. The result? SoftSpot, described as the “first truly seamless wearable technology,” is a sensor-connected fabric patch that can be subtly integrated into everyday clothing items.
“Imagine being able to snowboard the perfect line and also email your client at the same time — to me that’s so cool and it really changes the way you live,” Seymour said. “Our goal is to build the tools necessary to turn you into a superhuman.”
In order to complete the technical computing required to achieve this lofty goal, Seymour uses a powerful, customizable device that’s up to the job.
“I believe that, for certain tasks, you just have to use a PC because it enables work on [platforms] you can’t run elsewhere,” she said, explaining that her products have to work with a variety of gadgets.
“To us, it is very important that our technology is agnostic, meaning that we are able to cater to the entire world with our product and not just a small niche market.”
Read more about how Seymour is using her PC to influence the world of wearables here.
Reena Esmail wants to give classical music an image makeover. Often thought of as appealing only to a certain sect of sophisticated individuals, the 32-year-old Julliard- and Yale-trained composer wants to make classical music appealing to everyone, especially young people.
“I feel like I’m part of a revolution to make classical music as relevant as possible,” Esmail said. “Classical music should be accessible to anyone who wants to hear it because there are these really deep, wonderful, emotional things embedded in it—it allows you to feel things.”
Esmail fills her compositions with emotion by infusing her background into each string of notes. The Indian-American woman is usually a minority among her professional peers. Although she initially tried to separate these aspects of her personal life from those of her work life, Esmail ultimately embraced her whole self.
“My music is kind of a reflection of who I am,” she said.
“For a while, I had an American outside life and an Indian inside life, and that can be really exciting and can bring out so many different elements of your personality, but it can also be alienating when you feel you’re on the outside of something. I liked the idea of being able to explain one part of myself to the other parts of myself.”
The result is a personalized language that mixes the two music styles that connects with wide audiences.
Although she’s looking forward to her Carnegie Hall debut this year, Esmail is also doing a residency in street symphony in which she writes music primarily for those who are homeless or have been incarcerated.
“It’s one of the best ways I can think of to use the craft I have,” she said.
In order to help hone and produce her craft, Esmail uses a state-of-the-art PC. Her machine enables her not only to write, edit and record her ideas, it also allows her to teach students via Skype.
“I always look for students who really challenge me and challenge my own aesthetic and style and beliefs,” Esmail said.
Hear more about Esmail is using technology to change how people experience classical music in this video:
Rachel Rossin’s visual art has gone virtual. In one of her recent exhibits, the 28-year-old painter, multimedia manipulator and installation designer incorporated virtual reality goggles, allowing viewers to experience speeding glimpses of fractured paintings and deconstructed spaces.
Some gallery-goers were fascinated, while others felt unsettled.
“Part of the conflict of virtual reality is that it’s like being in a trance or a dream or taking hallucinogenic drugs in front of other people,” explained Rossin. “[Viewers ask themselves] ‘How much am I going to let this take me?’”
“There are people that are fine with it and are trying to interact with it … and then there other people who have a stronger tether to the outside world. I was certainly one of those people at first.”
For a girl who grew up lugging PC towers to LAN parties and dominating n00bs in Counter-Strike, the mix of virtual and fine art is a natural fit.
These days, Rossin creates custom-designed virtual reality art installations with the help of a PC. One of her early works attempted to build gesture and motion detecting technology that pre-dated Microsoft Kinect.
“I was trying to figure out how to project onto these paintings that I made and have them breathe when you walked by,” she said. “I started using a webcam with really simple animation and backlit painting projections.”
For Rossin, creative thinking is a powerful force to advance technology.
“That’s what’s nice about technology: it zeitgeists itself,” she said.
Read more about Rossin’s innovative virtual art projects here.
The BioBots team wants to prevent unnecessary deaths and help extend the human life span. With the help of the company’s desktop 3D bioprinter, researchers are able to use a collagen derivative to print organs.
“In layman’s terms, BioBots is about allowing people to make both hard and soft tissue — hard tissue being cartilage and bone, and soft tissue being lung and liver and heart,” explained Ricky Solorzano, BioBots Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer.
If this sounds a little too “science fiction” to be a reality, think again. BioBots made national news when the team printed a human ear, snagging the “Most Innovative” award at South by Southwest.
“The ear is an amazing thing because everyone sees it on other people, so when you take it out and separate it from an actual face it’s very impacting,” said Solorzano, who co-founded the company with Danny Cabrera. “The ear has a lot of geometrical complexity.”
Considering skilled artists usually design and create synthetic ears by hard, BioBot’s feat is all the more impressive.
“It also adds to the point that 3D printing has value because you’re able to create these very complex geometries with this device,” Solorzano said.
Part of building a machine that could handle printing hard and soft tissue meant using a variety of applications and open-source software.
One [application] we used at the beginning was called Repetier-Host, which runs better on a PC,” said Solorzano.
“We needed to use PCs because all this open-source [software] ran on them — it was really pivotal for us because it has allowed us to make these prototypes with limited resources.”
By tapping into the open-source community, the BioBots team was also able to customize the tools and test ideas in a cost-effective way. Right now, the BioBot 1 printer costs $10,000, but the team hopes to eventually create a machine that virtually anyone can use.
To help achieve this goal, BioBots sent its BioBot Beta printer to 50 universities and academics around the globe. These researchers in turn will help BioBots improve its machine.
“We partnered with them so that we would be able to get their feedback,” Solorzano explained, “so we can better empower them to take 3D biofabrication and the creation of 3D pictures to the next level.”
Read how the Solorzano and Cabrera plan to change the future of the health and pharmaceutical industries here.