MasterCard x Parsons #PayInStyle Hackathon
On March 5th, 2016 Parsons hosted a hackathon sponsored by MasterCard, tasking six competing teams with the challenge to build a prototype for a fashion product that can be used as means of payment — but do so in 6 hours or less.
This page will explore the final product developed by our team (team 6) - a NFC-chip embedded insole that can be easily manufactured at a very low cost, placed inside any shoe and replace the current widespread magnetic card. Our team also designed two reader platforms that are fit to be used in small/medium or big stores. The final prototype was tested and was proven completely functional.
The team developed the concept mutually in the weeks prior to the hackathon itself, and agreed on the roles we would each fulfill as well as the timeline. Such preparations were paramount as we were not allowed to bring any existing designs or materials into the studio the day of the hackathon. During the event I was tasked was the design and execution of the insole itself and both platforms.
After being admitted to the competition and assigned a group, each had several weeks to develop a concept.
My teammates and I decided to pursue the path of an accessory - a mundane object that is used and carried around on a daily basis. An object that will not bind or burden the user by its use, and will be easy to match with different outfits.
Our decision was to use shoes as our medium.
Following our "Everyone's Included" ideology, shoes were the most suitable option since it covers all ages, sexes and fashion styles.
The chip's manufacturing costs are reportedly very low, and so are manufacturing costs for the insole. Even with their combined costs, multiple shoes can be embedded with a chip and managed, for security purposes, through an app.
While thinking about how this solution would benefit its users, we wanted to simplify the payment process and make it hands-free. What's more hands-free then using your legs? (;
The NFC chip's reading limit is 4 centimeters (approximately 1.5"), which makes most commercial soles adequate for the job. Even when including the platform's thickness of 0.3 centimeters (1/8").