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Martha Hall - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Martha Hall

Director of Innovation, Health Sciences | Joint Appointment with Health Sciences | University of Delaware


Martha Hall focuses on designing wearables with the goal of holistically improving health using a patient-centered approach.



Martha Hall Publication



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Dr. Martha Hall, the Director of Innovation of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware and an experienced fashion designer, is focusing her attention on one particular effort in the industry – designing comfortable, high-performance clothing with the goal of holistically improving health using a patient-centered approach.

Dr. Hall, who holds a Ph.D. in Biomechanics and Movement Science, is also trained in kinesiology, human development and coding for wearable electronics and biomechanical analysis. Her work includes protective apparel of athletes, exoskeletal garments to promote mobility, clothing embedded with biofeedback monitoring, adaptive fashion and smart footwear/medical devices. Dr. Hall holds four patents in wearable technology and is an expert in user-centered function design.

The Delaware native uses her design expertise and knowledge of wearable technology to merge fashion and function in order to address the broad spectrum of needs in various patient populations and highlight the importance of patient-centered design in health sciences.

By bringing together fashion and engineering, Dr. Hall has assisted Michele Lobo, a physical therapy researcher at UD, in creating PlaySkin Lift. Their published article in Delaware Public Media highlights the creation of a pediatric exoskeleton solution for babies that can be worn as a comfortable garment to support movement.

Industry Expertise (4)


Sporting Goods



Areas of Expertise (5)

Functional Design

Wearable Technology

User-Centered Design

Psychosocial Aspects of Wearables

Qualitative Research Methods

Media Appearances (5)

University of Delaware celebrates campus inventors

Newark Post  online


“The primary driver of all of this work has been to make a positive impact on people's lives, and sometimes even K-9 lives, with Martha Hall's inventions related to Kevlar vests for K-9s,” said UD professor Kelvin Lee, who also serves as director of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals.

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Inventing K9 Kevlar | UDaily

University of Delaware  online


Now, Jetta dons an added layer of protection in the form of a Kevlar sweater that was designed, manufactured and patented by Martha Hall, director of innovation of health sciences at the University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences. The bright yellow, stretchy and thin, breathable sweater-like material is shrapnel- and stab-proof, providing UD’s K9s with a double aspect of protection.

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Underwear as empowerment: Delaware design student aims to fill a need for trans women

Reuters  online


The computer-generated avatar created from the scan and insights from talking with Sharpe and other trans women will help Zhang create the first-ever transgender underwear designed for mass production, according to Martha Hall, director of the lab and an assistant professor of health sciences at the university.

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People with Down syndrome are finally getting accessible fashion

York Dispatch  


The lab, which opened in September 2018, is powered by the vision and leadership of Martha Hall, a fashion designer turned biomechanical engineer. Hall, who was born in Newark, Delaware, earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from UD and then a Ph.D. in biomechanics from the school in 2018. She started her career designing cocktail dresses, but once she saw the work UD professor Cole Galloway was doing for children with motor deficits, she dedicated her work to improving minority populations’ quality of life through functional clothing.

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How this UD makerspace is innovating the future of wearables

Technical.ly  online


Embiid’s mask had been developed in the Innovation, Health & Design Lab by UD Director of Innovation Martha Hall, and John Horne, president and founder of Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics.

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Articles (5)

Wearables for Pediatric Rehabilitation: How to Optimally Design and Use Products to Meet the Needs of Users

Physical Therapy

2019 This article will define "wearables" as objects that interface and move with users, spanning clothing through smart devices. A novel design approach merging information from across disciplines and considering users' broad needs will be presented as the optimal approach for designing wearables that maximize usage. Three categories of wearables applicable to rehabilitation and habilitation will be explored: (1) inclusive clothing (eg, altered fit, fasteners); (2) supportive wearables (eg, orthotics, exoskeletons); and (3) smart wearables (eg, with sensors for tracking activity or controlling external devices). For each category, we will provide examples of existing and emerging wearables and potential applications for assessment and intervention with a focus on pediatric populations. We will discuss how these wearables might change task requirements and assist users for immediate effects and how they might be used with intervention activities to change users' abilities across time. It is important for rehabilitation clinicians and researchers to be engaged with the design and use of wearables so they can advocate and create better wearables for their clients and determine how to most effectively use wearables to enhance their assessment, intervention, and research practices.

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Feasibility and Effectiveness of Intervention With the Playskin Lift Exoskeletal Garment for Infants at Risk

Physical Therapy

2019 Background Infants born preterm and/or with brain injury often exhibit delays in the development of reaching and object exploration, increasing their risk of associated delays in cognitive development. Objective The objective of this study was to longitudinally evaluate feasibility of use of the novel Playskin Lift exoskeletal garment (Playskin; developed and trademarked by Dr. Lobo's Super Suits FUNctional Fashion and Wearable Technology Program at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA), the assistive and rehabilitative effects of intervention with the garment on reaching and object exploration ability, and to relate changes in reaching and object exploration to changes in cognition during intervention for infants at risk for developmental delays.

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Development and testing of a stitched stretch sensor with the potential to measure human movement

The Journal of The Textile Institute

2018 Human movement in health sciences is typically measured using motion capture laboratory equipment, but this method has inherent limitations including cost, specialized knowledge requirements, and inability to measure activity in natural settings. This study presents a novel textile-based stretch sensor with potential for use for measurement of human movement in smart clothing. The sensor is composed of silver-plated thread stitched into a textile substrate. Multiple samples varying in thread type, length, stitch geometry, and textile substrate were systematically fabricated and tested. Elongation and recovery testing revealed the optimal sensor configuration for providing the largest and most repeatable change in resistance. Proper placement of these sensors in clothing may allow for a variety of applications, including kinematic measurement, activity monitoring, movement impairment detection, activity feedback, or control of environmental and assistive technologies.

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Design and development of the first exoskeletal garment to enhance arm mobility for children with movement impairments

Assistive Technology

2017 Children with a variety of diagnoses have impairments that limit their arm function. Despite the fact that arm function is important for early learning and activities of daily living, there are few tools to assist movement for these children, and existing devices have challenges related to cost, accessibility, comfort, and aesthetics. In this article, we describe the design process and development of the first garment-based exoskeleton to assist arm movement in young children with movement impairments: the Playskin LiftTM. We outline our design process, which contrasts with the traditional medical model in that it is interdisciplinary, user-centered, and addresses the broad needs of users, rather than device function alone. Then we report the results of field-testing with the initial prototype with respect to our design metrics on a toddler with significant bilateral arm movement impairments. Finally, we summarize our ongoing development aimed at increasing comfort, aesthetics, and accessibility of the garment. The interdisciplinary, user-centered approach to assistive technology design presented here can result in innovative and impactful design solutions that translate to the real world.

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Playskin Lift: Development and Initial Testing of an Exoskeletal Garment to Assist Upper Extremity Mobility and Function

Physical Therapy

2016 Background A person's ability to move his or her arms against gravity is important for independent performance of critical activities of daily living and for exploration that facilitates early cognitive, language, social, and perceptual-motor development. Children with a variety of diagnoses have difficulty moving their arms against gravity. Objective The purpose of this technical report is to detail the design process and initial testing of a novel exoskeletal garment, the Playskin Lift, that assists and encourages children to lift their arms against gravity.

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Education (3)

University of Delaware: PhD, BioMechanics & Movement Science 2018

University of Delaware: MS

University of Delaware: BS

Affiliations (2)

  • Joint Appointment with Biomechanics & Movement Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Fashion & Apparel Studies, and Entrepreneurship
  • Ava & Dillinger : Founder

Languages (1)

  • English

Patents (3)

Method of Using a Textile Switch to Measure Physical Activity Within an Apparel Product

US Patent 62/513,459 (Pending)


Breast Displacement Measurement Device "Smart Sports Bra"

US Provisional Patent 62/504,602


Conductive Thread Stitched Stretch Sensor

US Patent 62/343,899 (Pending)