Friday, December 2, 2016

Making Friends with Technology

Preteen girls can now learn programming from plastic bracelets.

These bracelets, adorned with a flower, assist girls in developing technical skills, as well as interacting with each other socially. This type of jewelry is unique as it promotes both programming and physical contact between its users, which goes against the reoccurring theme that technology isolates people. In order for the bracelet to work to its full potential, girls must download the Jewelbot app on their mobile device to customize the colored light notifications. When a friend also wearing a Jewelbot is nearby, both light up in relation to which color each girl assigned that specific person. If all the girls meet wearing their bracelet, each one is illuminated in a rainbow of colors.

However, this trend extends farther than being the source to find friends with similar interests. Girls can program their bracelets to glow when they receive messages from their individual social media accounts (such as blue for Facebook), updates to parents, as well as personalized reminders for day-to-day actions.

Fashion and function are the two key parts of Jewelbots, created by Sara Chipps, Brooke Moreland and Maria Paula Saba. Chipps is a co-founder of Girl Develop it, a nonprofit that teaches coding to women, Moreland is an entrepreneur specializing in technical fashion and Saba currently studies Bluetooth after graduating from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Altogether, Jewelbots encourages girls to be involved with technology and be inspired by each other's eye-catching jewelry. It is a great way to integrate fashion without superficiality to girls coming-of-age and learning that technology isn't characterized by "nerdy" stereotypes.

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