Back on August 21st of this year, engineer Mark Rober left his position at NASA in Los Angeles and flew to London, England to become a Halloween costume designer. Yup, you read that right. Rober himself even said: “I could see the London Eye and I think, ‘what in the world am I doing’. This wasn’t part of the script.” Up until June of this year, Robert was a mechanical engineer at NASA, where he had been for nine years. He spent seven of those years were spent working on the Curiosity Rover project. So, you ask, why the sudden career change? Rober is currently developing wearable tech Halloween costumes and recently sold his company, Digital Dudz, to the British company that makes Morphsuits, where he is now employed.
It started on Halloween in 2011, where Rober showed off the above costume, containing two iPads (one on the front and one on his back) which he was able to create the illusion of being able to see through his body by linking the two using the iPad’s FaceTime feature. Rober said that he handed his phone to his wife and said “people love this at the party, just film this.” He later put the video on YouTube and it instantly went viral (resulting in free advertising), getting 1.5 million views in a day, and after that, Rober states that “everything has stemmed from that one decision.” With some help, he created a free app (downloaded over 500,000 times), a bunch of t-shirt designs, and a website selling wearable tech Halloween costumes using a similar method as his 2011 Halloween costume, and everything went live on October 12th, with the company earning $250,000 in only three weeks.
New designs for this Halloween include integrating the app with the Morphsuits—Rober holds a patent for the integration of apps with clothing and costumes—and a design that uses your phone’s accelerometer, and later use Bluetooth, near-field communications, and other sensors for future concepts that have yet to be explored. Rober admits that “it’s a little bit scary, but at the same time it’s such a cool opportunity. It’s just one of those things in life, you’ve just got to see what happens. One of the things that always appealed to me about NASA was we were always doing cool stuff that no one’s done before. Granted nothing’s as cool as building spaceships, but there is also something cool about getting an e-mail from a guy that says: ‘I’ve never give so many high-fives as I did last night.'”
- Free App Created by NASA Engineer Gives Halloween Costumes High-Tech Twist (theblaze.com)
- Former NASA engineer starts wearable tech costume company (adafruit.com)
- NASA scientist launches app-enhanced fancy dress line (telegraph.co.uk)