By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drexel students are making music, creating clothes, and playing video games — but this is serious academic stuff going on at a research wing that’s just opened at the University City Science Center.

The engineers might wonder why there are sweaters and scarves in the room.

“You can design something on the computer and machines actually knit it for you.”

The fashion designers would say, “what’s with the piano?”

“It’s a standard grand piano, but it’s been augmented with electromagnets. We can move the strings normally, but then we can also use the electromagnets to get very different sounds.”

Youngmoo Kim is director of the new ExCITe (Expressive & Creative Interaction Technologies) Center at Drexel, which draws students from different disciplines to see what magic can happen when they collaborate:

“We think the really interesting stuff happens at the boundaries. A lot of times you get really wacky, crazy ideas that are actually worth pursuing when you bring people from the disparate fields together.”

Like the video games designed for the gesture-reading Xbox Kinect system that help cerebral palsy patients with physical therapy:

“So trying to extend their reach to new places, trying to do repetitive motions to build up their muscle strength.”

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