Duncan Barker of Confirm Denied
Duncan Barker of Confirm Denied

Our region is booming with creatives, entrepreneurs and start-ups and in an environment where innovation is nurtured and competition is treated as collaboration, there’s no end to the success stories being told.

One that’s in the making is Confirm Denied.

The tech-wear company produces “smart” clothing: a t-shirt with embedded-chip technology built in to its design, placed cleverly behind the shirt’s logo.

Translated: tap your smartphone against the logo and you launch a shortcut to your favourite app, from Spotify music streaming to YouTube channels, Twitter and Snapchat. You name it.

It’s a shortcut that has endless applications built on the back of instant convenience. And in the business world, the possibilities for the wireless technology are exciting.

The tech-wear company has recently partnered with the Innovation Centre, Sunshine Coast, which is about to embark on a Startup Catalyst trade mission to the US including Denver, Boulder and finishing in San Francisco.

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The chip technology will be programmed into Innovation Centre uniforms to launch key information on the centre’s website and link to the Advance Queensland HotDesQ program. It’s a 21st century way of doing business and then some.

We chat to Confirm Denied founder Duncan Barker on the eve of the trade mission to find out how it all came about.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I recently moved back to the Sunshine Coast after 10 years in Sydney and Brisbane. My career spanned accommodation, online and real estate and I had the pleasure of working for the likes of Yahoo!7, the Wotif Group and The Executive Centre.

I turned down a job at Dropbox to pursue my first start-up before realising my passion for music, technology, fashion and a life on the Sunshine Coast needed to be explored.

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Did you grow up on the SunshineCoast?

I grew up in Buderim and moved to Sydney when I was 19 to pursue my career. I always intended to return to the Sunshine Coast and here I am after 10 years, loving the lifestyle change and the close proximity to family, old friends and the surf.

The Sunshine Coast really is an attractive place for tech start-ups and I’ve made it my mission to build a business that takes advantage of the region’s fantastic lifestyle proposition.

Where did the idea for the wearable technology come from?

My journey into wearable technology started with the development of a video-game-influenced clothing brand and the simple question, “How can I improve and innovate to create something truly unique?”

I have always been interested in technology and the idea of incorporating technology into the clothing brand seemed like a logical step.

Smart clothing is still at the early stages of the wearable revolution and I saw an opportunity to utilise an existing technology currently undergoing a renaissance period in a creative and fun way to create meaningful connections.

Duncan Barker

Is there a story behind the name?

The business name is actually a play on words inspired by a game mode from the Call of Duty franchise and the series’ ultra-realistic predictions of the role of technology in the future of warfare. I wanted a name that was unusual while also suiting the high-tech fashion identity associated with the Confirm Denied brand.

How does it work and what are the potential applications?

Our clothing comes embedded with a microchip, which is programmed to communicate with your smartphone. By simply tapping your smartphone against the Confirm Denied robot logo you have instant access to a pre-programmed function of your choice. These functions can include your favourite music playlist on Spotify, your favourite YouTube channel, social influencer, Twitch gamer or app.

One of the designs printed on the back of the wearable tech shirts
One of the designs printed on the back of the wearable tech shirts

What technology is it compatible with?

Our smart clothing is compatible with Android, Apple and Windows smartphones – 80 per cent of all smartphones on the market are compatible and that number continues to grow each year. We have a list of over 100 compatible smartphone models on the FAQs of our website for customers to view.

Where are the shirts made and can you tell us about the decisions behind the materials and designs used?

We work with Australian suppliers wherever possible and our final product is assembled right here in Queensland. Our designs are illustrated by video-game concept artists around the world and printed here in Australia using the latest, state-of-the-art digital print technology. Our wearable technology is imported from overseas and designed to our specifications to ensure the highest-quality standards.

Can you tell us about your new partnership with The Innovation Centre?

Our partnership with The Innovation Centre represents a key milestone for us as a start-up and we have moved into the centre to further explore the applications of our smart clothing technology.

A unique aspect of the partnership is that we have embedded a custom-programmed version of our technology into the Innovation Centre uniforms in preparation for their upcoming Startup Catalyst trade mission in the US. Their uniforms will be programmed to launch key information on the Innovation Centre website as well as link to the Advance Queensland HotDesQ program, all simply by tapping your smartphone.

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Will that have any flow-on effect for the Sunshine Coast?

That is absolutely the long-term goal. In the short term we are in talks with the University of the Sunshine Coast about opportunities for students and as the business scales it is our objective to support local talent and contribute back to the local community.

Do you see the range expanding into other wearable clothing items?

Definitely. Beanies, hats, pants are all products in the works. We’re also looking at the outside applications so you may see our technology being utilised across a range of apparel across a selection of industries.

How do you wash the shirts?

Our clothing is machine washable. Our technology is water and wash-proof and purpose-built to withstand the wash cycle for the life of the garment while also being sealed in a unique way to ensure you, as the wearer, don’t notice there’s a computer chip in their shirt.

What’s the next step for the technology moving forward?

We’re currently talking to some of Australia’s biggest bands. A very unique collaboration is in the works but we can’t say much more just yet.

Where can we grab a shirt?

Article from Sunshine Coast Daily.