Under Linda L. Franco’s leadership, a small and risky idea grew and developed to become an international sensation.
It all began when fashion student Antonio Perdigón had a vision of clothing that blended fashion and electronics, and that could help bridge the gap between the real world and the virtual. Unfortunately, his school didn’t share his vision, and he wasn’t able to complete his schooling. Luckily for Perdigón, Linda L. Franco, a marketing and design student he met in college, did believe in the idea. She applied to an accelerator in Mexico City, their proposal was accepted, and a partnership was born.
In 2011, Franco, Perdigón, and Daniel Fernández de Córdova co-founded Machina, a wearable technology company, where Linda is the CEO. Though wearable tech has been around for some time, it was a field filled with engineers rather than fashion designers. The aim of Franco’s company was to develop the technology within the spheres of fashion and design, creating clothing that was functional, beautiful, and available commercially, and that also enabled users to interact with technology in new and exciting ways.
One of Machina’s early ideas was the blending of clothing with music technology. Franco attended a concert where she saw the performer using his laptop to create music. She wanted to remove that barrier and allow the creation of music to become part of the performance itself by having artists use their own bodies to compose and play songs.
The result was the MIDI Jacket (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). This sleek piece of clothing has sensors embedded within the fabric that track arm movements and finger positioning, as well controls and an interface that can connect with devices like smartphones and computers. In 2013, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to develop the jacket and successfully raised $77,000.
Machina didn’t stop there. With the rapid advancement of immersive technologies, Franco guided the company into the innovative field of virtual reality. Machina is currently developing what it calls OBE or Out of Body Experience technology. OBE jackets and shirts are equipped with sensors that can track movements and apply pressure to mimic physical touches. Such technology can bring a level of immersion to virtual reality not seen before. Beyond VR, the OBE line has the potential to be connected to mobile devices and computers, creating new ways to interact with apps, messages, and the internet.
Franco’s vision has been recognized and acknowledged by many institutions; she was named one of Forbes Mexico’s Most Promising 30 Under 30, a High Growth Woman Entrepreneur by IDB, and an MIT Innovator Under 35, among various other accolades. She has spoken at conferences such as Women 2.0 and Wired London, and Machina has been featured by BBC, CNN, Hypebeast, and The Washington Post.
Thanks to Franco’s ambitious vision, willingness to embrace innovation, and powerful determination, Machina has become a growing and successful international company that’s pushing the boundaries of both fashion and technology.
Talia Zahavi | Contributing Writer
Photo credit: Instagram