Functional Fashion - Competition at IROS 2023


The IROS 2023 Functional Fashion competition invites teams to design and demonstrate robotic clothing that not only performs well but looks good whilst doing so. The aim of the competition is to both demonstrate the possibilities enabled by this new and exciting field and to encourage teams to go beyond the state-of-the-art in terms of comfort, ease of use, performance and fabulousness.

Teams may consist of any number of people, with one member elected as team leader, who will act as a contact point for their team. Teams may enter one of three categories:

  1. Functional fashion device demonstration (open to all, finals at IROS 2023).

    Teams will be asked to demonstrate their design live and in person at IROS 2023. Designs must be worn by a team-member who will demonstrate the designs ease-of-use and functionality, before strutting their design down the catwalk. Points will be awarded for task performance, ease-of-use, and appearance, with the team earning the maximum number of points crowned the winner of the inaugural IROS Functional Fashion competition.

  2. Functional fashion concept demonstration (primarily aimed at high school and undergraduate students)

    Teams will be asked to demonstrate their functional fashion design in a short video (less than 2 mins), demonstrating core functionality and explaining potential next steps in development. While designs are encouraged to be wearable, bench-top demonstrations of device concepts are also allowed for this category. Prizes will be awarded for best overall design, best-looking design and most functional design (determined by a panel of judges), and most popular design (determined by a vote on social media).

  3. Functional fashion design (primarily aimed at students below 13 years of age).

    Teams will be asked to submit an image of their design, accompanied by a description (max 1 page) of what their device does and how it works. Prizes will be awarded for best overall design, best-looking design and most functional design (determined by a panel of judges), and most popular design (determined by a vote on social media).

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Here is the timeline of the competition with milestones. This schedule is for the teams participating in the device demonstration category.

Date Event
25th March Announcement of the competition, call for participants
24th April Teams participating in the device demonstation category submit an expression of interest
30th April Qualifying teams are notified
14th June First checkpoint: qualifying teams must submit a vide0, demonstrating the working of a key component of their design
21st June Teams are given feedback on their designs
20th September Teams are required to tweet a video/pics of their design
1st October Teams arrive at IROS 2023. Familiarisaition with venue and competition area.
2nd October Competition day. Demonstrations followed by awards. NOTE: This is the latest updated date

Update to the teams taking part in the finals at IROS: > The judging and final event will take place on the 2nd of October between 12:30pm and 3:30pm in the exhibit hall. You may arrive earler and set up your demonstrations.

Teams participating in the concept demonstration and design categories can send in their entries anytime before 20th September via email to Please indicate the category you are participating in and the names of the team members in the email. You can send videos up to 2 minutes long, images and a description of your designs. Winners will be announced at IROS 2023 in October. Participation in these two categories is free and no registration is required.

Note: the dates are subject to change and will be updated here. All deadlines are 23:59 GMT on the day mentioned. Additional details, if any, will be notified directly to the teams that have registered.

Registration and Submission Procedure

Entrants to the open competition must first submit an expression of interest, describing their design and their team. To register your intent to participate, please download the form at this link and email it to the organisers by 24th April 2023. Qualifying teams will be notified by 30th April 2023. Teams registered for the open competition are also required to submit a development video (< 2 mins in length), documenting progress by June 14th 2023. Finally, entrants must also prepare a social media post (blog post or short video), advertising their completed design and submitted by 20th September 2023.

Entrants to this category will also need to register with IROS 2023 to attend the competition at the venue in Detroit. The registration for IROS 2023 will open shortly. Please keep an eye on their registration page here.

Entrants to the design demonstration should submit an image of their design (as a .png, max size 20MB) accompanied by a pdf file describing their design (1 page max). Details will be announced soon.

Entrants to the concept demonstration should submit a link to a video file (hosted on youtube or similar service, 2 mins length maximum) demonstrating their design. Details will be announced soon.


The task of the competition is to develop a wearable that detects and responds to people/objects that enter into the wearer's personal space. The participants are expected to focus on two key aspects:

  1. Detection: recognising when personal space has been entered, to what extent and by what agent.
  2. Response: producing an effective (and dramatic?) response to alert agents in the vicinity of the wearer that personal space has been encroached on.
Within these aspects, participants are encouraged to have a clear narrative for their wearable, e.g. what does the wearer want to communicate by wearing this item and why?
Personal space is defined as a circle of radius 50 cm around the wearer. However, we allow participants to define their own metric(s) of personal space (between 20 cm and 2 m) for their prototype where necessary to fit their narrative.

The rules for the competition are as follows:
  1. The organisers discretion is final.
  2. Rules are subject to change but all effort will be made to communicate these to the participants promptly.
  3. Participation: The competition is open to teams from all over the world. Each team may comprise of a minimum of one individual. There is no upper limit but up space at the finals will be provided to only 5 individuals from a team. One member of the team must demonstrate the device by wearing it and performing the tasks set out in the competition. There is no restriction on the age of the participants in the open category, if at least one team member is above the legal age to qualify as a guardian in the USA (This person must be present at the finals venue).
  4. Device requirements: The device must be self-contained. All sources of power, actuation, sensing and computation must be integrated into the wearable. No additional device may be used for any purpose. There is no restriction on the weight or size of the device, but a person must be able to wear and bear the weight without assistance. Remember that the design is assessed on ease of use and durability. The device must always be safe to humans.


The following criterion* will be used to assess the designs. A panel of experts will judge and award scores. Additionally, a part of the score is awarded by the audience.

  1. Wearability: Be able to complete everyday tasks
    • How fast can a person put it on? (a score based on speed relative to others)
    • How fast can a person take it off without damaging the device? (a score based on speed relative to others)
    • Ride an exercise bike (at an average speed of 25 km/h while wearing the device (pass / fail for durability))
  2. Catwalk: Walk through passive and active objects along catwalk. E.g., a doorframe and a crowd (a score for correctly identifying the objects and responding appropriately)
  3. Functionality: Demonstrate how the wearable supports the user when their personal space is infringed upon. (a score for detecting and providing appropriate response)
  4. Audience voting (sliding scales on their phones)
    • Spectacle
    • Style/coolness
    • How well does it do the task?
    • Would you encourage someone to wear it?
*These criterion can be modified to meet the accessibility needs of participating team members, please inform us prior to the event so that we can best support you.


Exciting prizes are up for grabs in each category. Will be announced shortly.


We are proud to announce that the QUT Centre for Robotics is sponsoring the event.

The organisers also acknowledge funding received from the IEEE Technical Committee on Soft Robotics.

To support this exciting event, please contact the organisers at

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If you have any questions, please contact the organisers at:

Functional Fashion at IROS is organised by:

We are pleased to have the exceptional hosting talent of: