By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s “Welcome Week” at Drexel University. On Sunday, the school gave freshmen a special freebie, in the form of a programmable backpack that is not yet commercially available.

smart backpacks3 Drexel University Freshmen Get Smart Backpacks

Drexel University freshmen test “Smart” backpacks. Drexel is part of a research hub that developed the packs with MIT, JanSport, and South Carolina’s Inman Mills. Credit: (Molly Daly)

It looks like a cool, yet unremarkable backpack but there’s a unique bar code hidden in the white, black and gray plaid. Genevieve Dion, Director at Drexel’s Center for Functional Fabrics, says that using the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Looks app, students can scan each other’s backpacks, and see each other’s social media profiles.

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“It’s never been done before,” Dion said. “It’s the first time that an app can really connect a textile.”

smart backpacks2 Drexel University Freshmen Get Smart Backpacks

Drexel University freshmen test “Smart” backpacks. Drexel is part of a research hub that developed the packs with MIT, JanSport, and South Carolina’s Inman Mills. Credit: (Molly Daly)

It’s a hit with Charlotte Hoover, a Drexel student.

“I honestly think it’s an amazing way to bring students together,” she said. “All they have to do is scan the backpack, and learn who someone is. It’s a brilliant use of technology to infuse into student lifestyle.”

smart backpacks1 Drexel University Freshmen Get Smart Backpacks

Drexel University freshmen test “Smart” backpacks. Drexel is part of a research hub that developed the packs with MIT, JanSport, and South Carolina’s Inman Mills. Credit: (Molly Daly)

Dion says it turns fabric into another platform, like a smart phone or watch.

“They’re all devices that we add on, and what if we could do that with textiles, and the technology disappears, completely,” Dion said.

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