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Trying to make the 'Badjo Suit' a good fit

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015

    UMES student is self-taught inventor 

    The Badjo SuitPRINCESS ANNE, MD- (Feb. 28, 2015) - UMES senior Jean-Paul Badjo grew up the youngest of nine siblings in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. dreaming someday of becoming a video game designer.

    His father, a retired civil engineer, was not keen on that career path.

    So the dutiful son enrolled at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to study something more traditional - old school, if you will. Electrical engineering.

    And now, Badjo just might be on the cusp of a breakthrough that would merge the impressive technological knowledge in his head with that long-held desire in his heart to explore new frontiers in the cyber world.

    Enter the Badjo Suit.

    For the past two years, Badjo has spent his free time tinkering with bringing to life his vision of cyborg-style characters in video games that could have chameleon-like attributes across a spectrum of uses.

    Badjo, who was born in Togo, occasionally trots out the "suit" from a workshop in an obscure corner of campus for demonstrations.

    Onlookers don't know what to make of it. He's programmed it so one of the hands mimics a Taser capable, he insists, of producing up to 10 million volts of electricity. The suit also has the ability to shoot flames.

    And anyone who has ever been inside a life-sized mascot suit can appreciate another innovation he's tried to build into the suit: air conditioning.

    For all his expertise in this high-tech gadgetry, Badjo insists "I'm more of an art person." He says he likes to draw, paint and create digital imagery.

    "Art gave me the imagination," Badjo said. "The technology allowed me to actually create the suit."

    Badjo estimates he's invested more than $8,000 in creating two iterations of the suit and programming it. He started with a template by purchasing a video game costume online, then put his imagination to work.

    He has his own web site, of course, and is dabbling in some informal marketing of the "Badjo Suit."

    Senior Jean-Paul BadjoThat Internet exposure recently has attracted attention from a cable TV producer pitching an idea for a reality show featuring young inventors. Badjo has been invited to submit an audition tape and is awaiting word on whether the producer has secured a network commitment to broadcast a show.

    Meanwhile, Badjo also is working with the University of Maryland law school in navigating the complexities of filing paperwork to secure a patent on his invention.

    While the fantasy world of video games and movie characters inspired Badjo to pursue the suit's development, he envisions it potentially having wider applications, possibly in law enforcement, firefighting and the security fields.

    Badjo said he's also tried to design the suit so it can be