Made With Code: So Much More Than Just a Pretty Interface

The gilded runway at New York Fashion Week  boasted the debut of a very special garment worn by super-model, Coco Rocha and designed by Zac Posen; an LED light-designed dress. Made in collaboration with Google's Made With Code program, the spectacular little black dress was hand-coded with dazzling LED light designs.


The Made With Code Dress: Source: AdWeekThe Made With Code Dress: Source: AdWeek


The Made With Code Program

The Made With Code program, whose main focus is educating girls about how programming is more than just sitting behind a computer, launched last year. The Lower East Side Girls Club (LEGC) is a major recipient of the many educational programs offered by the Made With Code website. Courses feature free programming projects that teach the basics of computer science, which include designing dresses and lighting up White House Christmas trees over the holidays.

The Made With Code program is comprised of two shops; the maker and the design shop. The former introduces the students to wearable technologies and computer programming, such as Arduino, which is a simple micro-controller board and open source platform that can build digital devices and interactive objects that can both sense and control the physical world. The  girls also used, a basic programming language that allowed them to alter the look of the dress by moving shapes, colors, patterns and other variables.

Fewer than one percent of high school girls plan to study computer science in college and it is this percentage that Google is hoping to change with the Made With Code initiative by encouraging students to design a "little black  dress" for the digital age. In the words of Kate Sease, development officer and events manager at LEGC:

"Made with Code is a great way to get the girls interested in coding, and also for those who are interested in coding to open up what they see as possibilities in the wearable tech scene. You don't have to be the person building the back end or the front end of a website. If you are creatively-minded or love fashion, you can find a way to use  both."

The Lower East Side Girls Club

The primary goal of LEGC is to empower young women from lower income families through education, training and social advocacy. Seven girls from the LEGC in New York attended the Zac Posen show, which featured the black dress illuminated by pre-programmed lights and designs they helped create along with the Spring Summer 2016 Fashion Collection. According once again to Sease, the creative worlds of fashion and technology collide in girls' imaginations when they visualize how designs come to life via code.

How does this special dress work?

Posen designed the dress while Made With Code mentor and fashion designer, Maddy Maxey, programmed, incorporated animations and fabricated the LED technology and 500 lights inside the dress to display the patterns and colors the girls had coded online. Her goal was to teach the girls to visualize code as a form of artistic expression and creativity.

The future of Made With Code

The "little black dress" is only the most recent of several diverse projects that include a dancing yeti, music mixer, beat-maker and the ability to code your face into a kaleidoscope. Maxey also envisions a future with clothing that responds to body temperature, outfits that change color and perhaps even cashmere sweaters that are machine washable. Anyone can try  the Made With Code program and as Maxey told her girls: "If you like Made With Code, try Java Script or something similar. Keep diving in. Don't stop yet."

Closing thoughts on technology:
A Tee-shirt reads: I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code. ~ All Things D


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