Beacon Backpack - 2010 - Wearable Art

The Beacon Backpack was a collaborative project created in response to a call by the American Red Cross of San Jose to design wearable technology that could serve to aid first-responders in disaster areas. Our eclectic group of fashion artists, designers, gamers and programmers dreamt up the Beacon Backpack, a large cross worn on the back of the first responder that would utilize several different techniques to communicate with victims as well as with other first-responders.

The piece was inspired as result of several relative recent large scale disasters (the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disasters) we designed the Beacon Backpack as a mobile mesh network node that would deliver auditory, visual and digital information streams through loudspeakers, display boards and mesh wifi hotspots respectively, throughout a zone where the communication infrastructure would be overwhelmed or destroyed.

The Backpack is equal parts social commentary and disaster relief product. While the symbolic shape and size of the pack made it prohibitively cumbersome, it was designed as such to reflect both upon the burden that technology can be (when it fails) and what burden and first responders have to carry in the course of their work.