A white purse sits on a table. It's rectangular with a large, over-the-shoulder handle, all made of paper

A cross-faculty collaboration between Humber’s Faculty of Business and Faculty of Media & Creative Arts produced an accessory that not only looks smart – this purse acts smart, too. 

“The current purses in the market have some pain points that bother consumers, especially women, such as never being able to find items in your purse, feeling vulnerable to theft, purse interiors not being designed with your essential items in mind and missing notifications and phone calls when the phone is tucked away,” said Poppy Pan, a student in the Fashion Management and Promotion graduate certificate program. 

Pan was one of the students from the Faculty of Business who teamed up with Web Design and Interactive Media students to work on the “Fashion Internet of Things Wearable Smart Purse Project” last Fall. The Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology assisted the team of six in fabricating the physical prototype. 

They named their prototype Aleo. It incorporated smart technology features such as interior lighting, notification relay, GPS tracking, safety alarm and emergency SMS. 

Multidisciplinary solutions for complex problems 

Fashion Management program coordinator Rossie Kadiyska followed the intersection of fashion and technology for years before she and her colleague David Neumann came up with an innovative, collaborative capstone project for their students. 

The pair developed the capstone project as co-leads. The Aleo prototype illustrated on paper with arrows pointing to each feature

At first, some of the team members were intimidated by the Smart Purse project, but Kadiyska says they gained confidence as it progressed. 

“We told them that we really believe in them and that they could do it, and that really inspired them to sign up,” she said. 

Pan’s team members are Danielle Marie Lister, Jezebel Torres, Sandra Mannila, Chaoran (Sharyn) Ge and Anne Sebastian. 

The students worked under the guidance of Kadiyska, Neumann and professors Vladimira Stefek and Julie Savile, who assisted them in producing three versions of the product and a final prototype. 

“Increasingly, we are seeing multidisciplinary teams in industry that are needed to solve complex problems,” said Neumann, who took the lead on the technology side while Kadiyska managed the fashion students.

“This project was a great opportunity for both programs to bring together students with different skill sets to collaborate, learn from each other, take risks, be creative and create a deliverable that was well above what we expected.” 

‘Excellent entrepreneurial experience’

The work was done online, except for the construction of the prototype in the lab. 

“Although it was during the pandemic and we could only meet through Zoom meetings, everyone was motivated to complete the project,” said Pan. 

She learned new skills throughout the project – some of them unique and others universal. 

Pan was challenged to sew a purse by hand for the first time and picked up the basics of video editing. Working with the group improved her communication skills too. 

“This excellent entrepreneurial experience made me more confident and enthusiastic about working in the fashion field,” she said. 

Two students in the fashion program decided to move forward with the Smart Purse and translate the concept to a leather purse instead of fabric. 

The team has access to laser technology in the Fabrication Lab on North Campus, where they can apply and improve on some of the skills they picked up during the project. 

“This project has capitalized on the potential to grow and has turned into a Phase 2 work-integrated learning and entrepreneurial opportunity,” said Kadiyska 

Learn more about the project here.