High-Tech Goes High-Touch: Fantastic Fabricator

Maggie Orth is tired of high-tech gadgets encased in hard, shiny plastic. Instead, she weaves metals into soft fabrics to create everything from a jacket that plays music to a cocktail dress that lights up like a firefly. "Injection-molded plastic is not my cup of tea," says Orth, whose Seattle firm International Fashion Machines just released a line of fuzzy light switches--small cloth pompons that turn on or off with a squeeze, thanks to conductive fibers woven into them.

Trained as a painter, Orth got her Ph.D. at M.I.T.'s Media Lab, where she had an epiphany: "I thought, Wouldn't it be...

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