Mark Rober was just your average mechanical engineer for NASA, working for seven years helping to build the Mars Rover, when he finally found his true passion: Halloween costumes.
In 2011, Rober figured out that, with FaceTime, he could create one of the grislier costumes the human mind had ever conceived: a person with a hole blown through them. By cutting a hole in his shirt and duct-taping one iPad to the front of his shirt, and another to the back, he could use FaceTime to allow people to look right through him. How long did it take Rober to come up with the idea?
"When I first heard Steve Jobs talk about FaceTime, it occurred to me that would be a simple way to blow a hole in your stomach, if you combined them," he tells Co.Create. "Turns out, it worked pretty well."
It did work well—the how-to video that Rober put on YouTube landed him well over three and a half million views, and it launched him on his path to his new career. Rober left his NASA job over the summer to pursue his company, Digital Dudz, in partnership with another company that makes freaky Halloween outfits, Morphsuits. Now, he's there to help people who want to have memorable costumes, but don't like putting in the work or energy to come up with an idea, still be the talk of the party.
"If no one wants to be that one guy who doesn't go dressed as anything at all, but they also don't want to put themselves totally on a limb with their costume, this is a great compromise," he says. "You can go to the party in just jeans and a T-shirt, and still have one of the best costumes at the party."
For the time being, those costumes fit into two categories: T-shirts, which come with a pocket designed to hold your phone, which, when running the Digital Dudz app, offer creepy animations (mostly eyes that move and blink); and iWounds, which are latex pockets that hold your phone and look like, um, actual holes in your flesh. A new, interactively gory new iteration: the Gut Ripper, which allows you to have a buddy appear to reach through your back and rip out your living viscera (see video).
All of this is admittedly pretty cool, but Rober says we're just scratching the surface (no pun intended): "The processor in most mobile devices is more powerful than the processor of the rover we put on Mars," he says. "This means there are a lot of features—such as the accelerometer, GPS, NFC, Gyroscope, etc—that we have plans in the works to take advantage of to create a truly unique and interactive experience."
At least, of course, until your phone's battery dies. Muahahahaha, indeed.