Shimmy Upskill: Empowering garment workers through play
A learning environment utilizing game mechanics to upskill digitally illiterate garment workers as sewing automation is introduced to factories.
Shimmy Technologies is an early-stage company that believes the future of work in the apparel industry should be fun, dignified, and efficient—and driven by a people-first mindset. Our SaaS-based applications help prepare apparel brands and manufacturers for the future of work by automating manual processes and helping humans attain new skills, aiding them in their transition to become the flexible workforce of the future.
Shimmy Technologies uses a cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI) platform to accelerate conventional apparel design workflows while laying the groundwork for apparel’s next chapter: mass customization, circularity, and automation.
- We help apparel brands speed up their product development cycles, lower COGs by better rationalizing SKUs, and earn more incremental revenue by having flexible, digital models ripe for personalization and customization.
- We help apparel manufacturers train their workers so they can increase capacity to do more digital patternmaking, use material with less waste, and increase accuracy in changes to physical prototypes.
- We help governments scale digital literacy initiatives to diversify export industries ahead of automation reshoring garment production closer to demand for clothes.
We are building our applications to eventually serve the entire design through manufacturing process while employing lean start-up tactics.
Our latest project is the development of Shimmy Upskill. Our goal with this application was to answer the question of how to retain workers most vulnerable to job loss as a result of automation technologies. The apparel industry, made up of a predominantly female workforce, is witnessing an upheaval. With mounting pressure to increase speed to market, the sector is using more digital patterns and 3D CAD models in its product development and merchandizing workflows. These digital models, in turn, are defining the tasks operated by new sewing robots, which may drastically reduce the number of workers needed for mass production of clothing.
We believe those who can operate and program these robots will be the workforce of the future. Adopting digitalization and/or automation will require garment industry workers to learn new skills in highly technical CAD software or risk being left behind. Anticipating this change, we want to protect workers’ right to livelihood by preparing them for career paths inside and outside of the apparel sector. Using pattern shapes that they already understand, we are building a gamified training platform that enhances digital literacy and other transferable job skills.
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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:New York, NY, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
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What makes our solution innovative:
The apparel industry is moving towards localized manufacturing and mass customization by adopting automation and artificial intelligence (AI). However, these technological changes have serious social impacts, specifically the mass displacement of 75 million garment workers around the globe. Most of these workers are women, concentrated in low-income countries with limited economic opportunities.
We are tackling this challenge by building new technologies that optimize workflows for apparel brands and manufacturers while amplifying humans' unique capacity for creativity, design, and empathy. In this way, we not only enhance the apparel industry’s efficiency and productivity, but also create dignified jobs for workers.
How technology is integral to our solution:
The system set up to design and manufacture clothing is outdated and inefficient. Changes in buying behavior, pressures to automate, and cost efficiency measures are driving the apparel industry to adopt 3D technology to design clothing. The industry’s slow pace has yielded a major shortage of talent with expertise in clothing construction and 3D modeling skills.
3D apparel CAD platforms themselves are difficult to learn and use. Advances in touchscreens, speech-to-text, and AI have been essential to remove typical human computer interaction barriers and reach a population in need of higher skilled work who can bridge this talent gap.
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Our revenue model:
For Shimmy Technologies overall, revenue comes from enterprise software sales and consulting. Eventually, Shimmy Upskill will be a solution sold to factories, brands, and/or government agencies to train their workforces.
Why we are applying to Solve:
SOLVE gives Shimmy Technologies an opportunity to improve our product line by accessing potential cross-sector partners and learning from the brightest minds in the technology and social innovation field. More specifically, we applied to:
- Network with organizations such as Google and GE to scale our product.
- Consult with MIT academics, such as Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
- Connect with non-governmental organizations, including UN Women and World Bank, to understand gender and development issues in target countries.
- Collaborate with other SOLVE teams, such as Digital Citizen Fund, whose mission is closely aligned with Shimmy Technologies.
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- Sarah Krasley CEO, Shimmy Technologies