This LED umbrella from local hacker won international wearable tech competition - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 22, 2013 8:30 am

This LED umbrella from local hacker won international wearable tech competition

It's been a big year for Leslie Birch, a videographer who lives in Fairmount, who jumped into the tech scene pretty recently. She learned about Arduino microcontrollers at The Hacktory, attended her first hackathon last March (the women-focused Lady Hacks) and built an LED-equipped skirt whose lights followed the orbit of the International Space Station for NASA's Space Apps hackathon in April.

Leslie Birch won an international wearable technology competition with her Arduino-equipped umbrella.

Light up a gloomy rainy day with an LED umbrella.

That was the idea behind Leslie Birch‘s FLORAbrella, named for the FLORA Arduino that it used, that won first place in an international wearable technology competition held by engineering community Element14 and manufacturer Adafruit. Birch was one of five contestants chosen to compete in the challenge after an initial idea pitching phase. The project took about two-and-a-half months, Birch said.

Watch the umbrella in action below.

It’s been a big year for Birch, a videographer who lives in Fairmount, who jumped into the tech scene pretty recently. She learned about Arduino microcontrollers at The Hacktory, attended her first hackathon last March (the women-focused Lady Hacks) and built an LED-equipped skirt with lights that follow the orbit of the International Space Station for NASA’s Space Apps hackathon in April.

“I’m so in love with open source hardware at this point that it may be another career choice,” said Birch, who has worked as a a set decorator, a public TV producer and an educator, among other things.

Birch is teaching a class at The Hacktory this weekend on how to program a “blink-tastic” costume.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes has been covering the Philadelphia tech scene since 2012. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

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