The Edge

This lab designed a coat for people who can't use their arms

Mixing high-tech with high-fashion to design for people with disabilities

Here's a transcript of the video:

CHRISTINA MALLON (OPEN STYLE LAB BOARD MEMBER): Eight years ago, I started to lose the ability of the motor neurons in my arms. As the motor neuron disease progressed further down my arms and shoulders, I couldn't put on a coat any longer.

MAGDALENA PETROVA (REPORTER): Christina Mallon is not alone. Nearly one-fifth of Americans have some sort of a disability.That's why Open Style Lab started to make tech-based clothing for people with disabilities.

MALLON: Open Style Lab created a coat that I can put on without the use of my arms and hands. This allowed me to live alone and keep working, which really was so key to my happiness.

PETROVA: Open Style Lab started out as a public service project at MIT before it was converted to a non-profit. The organization partners with Parsons School of Design in New York to offer a class where student engineers, designers and occupational therapists are paired up with a client to create clothing or gadgets for their individual needs. It's where Julia Liao met Mallon.

JULIA LIAO (PRODUCT DESIGN RESEARCH ASSISTANT, OPEN STYLE LAB): When we started the project, we wanted to see what Christina struggled with with her daily life, and one of the things was that she could not swipe a MetroCard in the New York City subway. So, what we've created, my team and I, is a 3D-printed assistive device. So once Christina is on the subway, she's able to wear this around her neck, drop it onto the card reader and kind of slide it through with her range of motion.

PETROVA: Jonathan Hayden also worked to design a jumpsuit for a client who was paralyzed from the chest down.

JOHNATHAN HAYDEN (DESIGNER): The client that we had, she has somebody that helps her get dressed, and so things like pull tabs in the back that would help them assist pulling the legging portion of the jumpsuit up, but also giving her elements that she can do herself, such as the wrap top.

PETROVA: Technology is a big part of the design process at Open Style. Jonathan consulted with his client on the wrap top using augmented reality.

GRACE JUN (OPEN STYLE LAB EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR): I've seen some breakthrough in innovative technologies that can be useful, and I think really applicable for Open Style Lab is body scanning and also 3D visualizations that are found for computer software and fashion pattern making.

PETROVA: Open Style Lab aims to expand its reach by partnering with tech companies and hospitals to bring its designs to life.

JUN: We really see disability as a part of life in your human life cycle. As we are aging, I mean the chances that you might face like a sprained ankle or even, you know back pain, that's quite high. And so we look at it as a type of lifestyle that should be embraced in a way that our products and services are really accessible for the near future.

MALLON: It's the world that makes me disabled and we can stop disability by being more inclusive.