Advanced Functional Fabrics of America’s (AFFOA) national headquarters and first of its kind advanced fabric prototyping facility will open with an event featuring Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representatives Niki Tsongas and Joe Kennedy, United States Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics James MacStravic, New Balance CEO Robert DeMartini, MIT President L. Rafael Reif and AFFOA CEO and MIT Professor Yoel Fink.
MIT and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provided major funding for the $10 million facility, located at 12 Emily Street, near the MIT campus. The Fabric Discovery Center (FDC) which will feature end-to-end prototyping, start-up incubation space and education and workforce development activities is part of a nationwide effort dedicated to the acceleration of U.S. textile manufacturing through a high-tech, value-added domestic ecosystem.
“We are thrilled to celebrate this first of its kind Fabric Discovery Center and the advances and jobs it will unlock in revolutionary fabrics and textiles,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our investments and the commitment of partners from the federal government, academia and the private sector in harnessing these emerging technologies, are critical to the Commonwealth’s competitiveness in advanced manufacturing and creating job opportunities for Massachusetts’ residents.”
“AFFOA’s promise reflects the very best of MIT: It’s bold, innovative and daring. It leverages and drives technology to solve complex problems, in service to society. And it draws its strength from a rich network of collaborators—across governments, universities and industries,” said MIT President Rafael Reif. “It has been inspiring to watch the partnership’s development this past year, and it will be exciting to witness the new frontiers and opportunities it will open.”
AFFOA is announcing two commercially-ready product platforms, which will be unveiled at the event. The first of these, being distributed to the roughly 300 people attending the unveiling, is the world’s first “internet connected” programmable backpack. The second new platform is dubbed “Fabric LiFi,” and is the world’s first fabric light-based communications system; it allows LED lights to stream information at high bandwidth to the wearer. Both product platforms, developed through AFFOA’s industry partners and prototyping network, are enabled by advanced fabrics made in the U.S.
“The advanced fabric product platforms that we introduced exemplify the future where U.S. manufacturing innovations enable breakthrough products that benefit consumers,” said AFFOA CEO Yoel Fink.