Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Denise is a designer with a multidisciplinary background. She has a double degree in Industrial Design and Textile Design from the University of Buenos Aires. At the beginning of her career, she worked as a teaching assistant at the university for 5 years and received a research stimulus grant for young researchers. She worked as a Product Designer for several years and made some projects with electronics and conductive textiles for fun until she started working in the digital world as a UX designer and became involved in IoT. She is a person who loves interactive objects and to create fun stuff. She is currently working on an insurtech project and is developing a makerspace focused on hardware programming. She strongly believes in the idea that we are all makers.
Denise, how did you find out about Women of Wearables?
I was looking on the internet about women who were involved in tangible interfaces and I came across WoW. I thought it was incredible, I did not expect this level of international impact.
What are your projects you're working on at the moment?
I'm working on putting together a makerspace. We are finishing with the decoration for the opening. As this space is part of an insurtech, we are working on a piece of fabric to add to the helmets of cyclists that can indicate where they are going to turn. It's a capacitive piece made with conductive wires, LEDs and a tiny lilipad. We are also making an alcoholmeter to connect to an app.
With some friends, I'm working on a shoe linked to a game. Children have to go for a walk, so that later, when the shoe is synchronized with the game, a character comes to life and they can play.
What was the biggest obstacle in your career so far? How about biggest achievement?
The biggest obstacle, so far, was to find the tangible interfaces and wearables world. It took me a long time because I had no contact with these technologies within my environment. It's something that I love and I would like to devote 100% of my time to creating interactive objects. My greatest achievement was to create iúnigo makerspace and be able to begin spreading these ideas within a company.
What are the challenges of being a woman in the niche you are in?
Over 80% of people in technology are men, in fact in the company where I work, if I do not count the designers, there is only one woman in programming. There is an idea that women linked to these things are nerds. However, there are increasingly more women groups and educators encouraging girls to get involved in technology. In any case, wearables and tangible interfaces are so niche in Argentina that I do not know if there is much difference between men and women.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
Mainly because I believe in diversity of mind, all spaces should be constituted with men and women equally. A man in a haberdashery will possibly go through situations similar to those of a woman in an electronics house. Personally, I am interested in interactive objects, I think it took me a long time to find them not only because in my country it is not a highly developed area but because nobody encouraged me to look for this. I do not believe that it is anyone's fault, but that it is a cultural issue that will gradually be modified. It seems to me that it is our responsibility to demystify technologies because designing wearables and tangible interfaces not only solves problems in the real world, but it is also fun :)
How does the tech ecosystem look in Buenos Aires?
The ecosystem in Buenos Aires is in the early stages of development. There are very few people involved and it is not easy to find them. Although there are some events, many of them are about specific subjects. I'm sure it's a community with a lot of potential but it has to find its way.
What will be your main goals as Women of Wearables Ambassador in Buenos Aires? My main goal is to start generating a community and encourage people to get involved. I think networking and linking with the international community is very important at this stage.
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and fashion tech industries in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
In my opinion I think we are going towards nanotechnology, to be able to develop intelligent yarns and build programmable textiles. On the other hand are the devices that are placed under the skin and inside the body. There is still a long way to go, but everything that has to do with collecting and analyzing body data, in the most accurate way.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in tech?
Maja Matarić, Cynthia Breazeal, Neri Oxman. Also Ayah Bdeir, I love little bits.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.