Possibly the Most Radical Innovation to Zippers in Over a Century

ABC News

After more than 100 years, the zipper has finally gotten a makeover, thanks to inventor Scott Peters, his mom, and his physically challenged uncle.

Peters' uncle, Dave Peters, has myotonic dystrophy, a degenerative disease that limits the use of his hands. Lack of manual dexterity was an especially tough challenge during frigid upstate New York winters, when zipping up his jacket was a frequent and exasperating task.

Peters and his mother, Nancy Peters, who is an occupational therapist, decided to help Uncle Dave out by coming up with a zipper that was easier to manage.

"There were things we wished we could do for him and for some reason we latched onto the idea we could help him zip up his jacket," Peters recalled.

The zipper was first introduced at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Except for a few tweaks here and there over the years, it's pretty much remained unchanged since then: two rows of teeth facing each other that are pulled together in a single line by a slider to close, and then pulled down by the slider to open. Most zippers employ a "box and pin" design at the bottom to lock the two sides into place. It's cheap and easy to manufacture, but at times maddeningly impossible to align.

Peters and his mom started out by cutting the bottom off of a jacket then gluing magnets to the base of a conventional zipper, reasoning this would hold the ends closed and make it easier to zip. It didn't work but they had a hunch that magnets were the way to go, so they kept at it.

Enter their lifelong neighbor, Dave Lyndaker, an experienced mechanical designer who had spent years designing tiny mechanical parts and circuit boards. After a quick discussion around a campfire in the summer of 2007, Dave joined the team and they began producing test zippers at a brisk pace. Every time they completed a promising prototype, they'd sew it into a jacket for Uncle Dave to try out.

Finally, six years and more than 100 prototypes later, they came up with a design that worked. Their "Quickzip" relies on a "hook-and-catch" design. The magnet on one side of the jacket pulled the pin from the other side over the top of a catch and guided it into place. Once the first set of teeth are joined, the user can grab the slider and pull the zipper closed with ease - even with one hand.

With their device working well, the team formed a company, DNS Designs LLC. They originally intended to file a patent for medical use but quickly realized their zippy little invention could be helpful to everyone who's ever struggled with a zipper, from quick changing triathletes to little kids just learning to use their hands.

"Once we tried it we realized it was way better than your average, run of the mill zipper," Lyndaker said.

They began contacting clothing companies and zipper manufacturers. But in the end, Under Armour, a high-end sports clothing company, found them through a patent search and came knocking on their door. After initial talks, Under Armour invited the DNS team to one of its innovation shows in Baltimore. Now DNS has signed an exclusive deal with the company.

Peters said jackets and sweatshirts featuring the zipper - now rebranded as Magzip - will go on sale sometime before the end of this year. Though the team didn't start out with any commercial ambitions, Peters said they hoped they would be able to change the world in some small way.

"It wasn't just Uncle Dave who was frustrated with zippers," Peters said. "A lot of people are, and we hope this makes their lives a little easier."

View photo

.
HT Magzip2a ml 140211 16x9 608 Possibly the Most Radical Innovation to Zippers in Over a Century

Possibly the Most Radical Innovation to Zippers in Over a Century

View Comments (40)

Recommended for You

  • The Obamas Have a Dance-Off With Stormtroopers, R2-D2 in Celebration of Star Wars Day

    The White House posted a fun dance video to commemorate Star Wars Day late Wednesday. The 22-second clip was released on the White House's official Facebook and Twitter accounts with the caption, "Dance. Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" sets in motion the impromptu dance party where President Obama can…

    Good Morning America
  • Former NFL Quarterback Johnny Manziel Booked in Domestic Violence Case

    Former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel presented himself for booking before posting bond in Texas today, one day before his first scheduled court hearing in a domestic violence case. A grand jury charged Manziel, 23, with family violence assault last week following…

    Good Morning America
  • 7-Year-Old Writes Excuse Note, Goes Home From School

    Though the girl was supposed to attend an after-school program on Monday, the note she wrote and delivered to the staff herself worked. The staff excused little Rosabella Dahu, she boarded the school bus and went home. Charlie Dahu, her father, said Sheldon Elementary in Houston has promised him…

    Good Morning America
  • Prince: Feds Join the Investigation Into His Death

    Federal authorities are now investigating Prince's death. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office told ABC News in a statement today that the organization, along with the DEA, will work in conjunction with the local sheriff's office to investigate the singer's death last month. “The U.S.…

    Good Morning America
  • Takata Airbag Recall More Than Doubles in Size

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced a major expansion of the Takata airbag recall, more than doubling the number of airbags already deemed potentially unsafe. An additional 35 to 40 million driver- and passenger-side airbags are being added to a list of 28.8 million…

    Good Morning America
  • Transgender Woman Records Stranger's Tirade Before Allegedly Being Attacked on New York Subway

    A transgender woman in New York City said she is hoping to "raise awareness about the daily violence trans people face" by sharing video she recorded showing "the transphobia and racism" she said she recently "had to take from a random stranger on the subway."Pearl Love told ABC News today she took…

    Good Morning America
  • John Kasich Suspends His Presidential Campaign

    John Kasich announced this evening he was suspending his presidential campaign. “As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life,” the Ohio governor said in the same refurbished barn where former…

    Good Morning America
  • FBI Nabs Man Suspected of Poisoning Produce at Grocery Store

    The FBI has arrested a Michigan man for allegedly spraying a poisonous mixture of chemicals on food at three grocery stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The FBI and Michigan Health Department are now looking at whether anyone was seriously ill from the low-scale chemical attack to contaminate food. …

    Good Morning America
  • Company Expands Voluntary Recall to Include All Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Products

    CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington, has expanded a voluntary recall for some of its products, which included organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables because of the risk of Listeria, according to the company's statement. The voluntary recall is being made in cooperation with the Food and…

    Good Morning America
  • Helicopter Pilot Narrowly Avoids Crash During Recovery Mission in Dramatic Video

    In September 2015, trooper helicopter pilot Kent Harrison of the Utah Department of Public Safety and a companion were sent to the area to help a Salt Lake County search and rescue team recover the body of a woman who had been hiking alone when she tragically fell 300 feet to her death. "It was a…

    Good Morning America
  • Girl Diagnosed With Rare Genetic Disorder Thanks to Reddit After Years of Inconclusive Testing

    Bo Bigelow and his wife wondered for year why their daughter was different. Bigelow's daughter, Tess, was non-verbal, has gastronintestinal symptoms and seemed to have periodic seizures, but doctors were baffled about the cause. Bigelow said he and his wife were desperate to understand Tess'…

    Good Morning America
  • Obama Drinks Flint's Filtered Water During Visit to 'Shine a Spotlight' on Water Crisis

    President Obama drank filtered Flint water during a visit to the Michigan city today as he received a first-hand look at the crisis he has said deeply affected him as a parent. “As a short-term measure, this is the right thing to do, and frankly it's going to be a lot more convenient than people…

    Good Morning America
  • Tracking Appalachia's Swing From Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump Country

    During his victory speech Tuesday night after the Indiana primary, Donald Trump emphasized a region that could be ground zero for support: Appalachia. “The miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Ohio and all over, they’re going to start to work again,” Trump said. Once upon a time in coal…

    Good Morning America
  • Crying Babies Mean Free Flights During JetBlue Flight

    Parents flying with small children have two main fears: One, that their child will misbehave during the flight, and two, that the other passengers will hate them for it.Just in time for Mother's Day, JetBlue has released a video that may make those flying without kids a little more patient with…

    Good Morning America
  • Mercury Set to Cross the Sun in Rare Celestial Event

    Mercury is set to transit the sun, a celestial event so rare it happens just 13 times in a century.The planet closest to the sun will begin its crossing at 7:12 a.m. ET Monday. Mercury will slowly journey across the face of the sun, appearing as a small black dot to people on Earth viewing the…

    Good Morning America
  • Family's Home Burns Down on First Night: 'We Fought for Everything'

    A Massachusetts family is heartbroken after a fire engulfed their new home the very first night they moved in."We fought for everything..." Anthony Rodriguez of Winchendon, Massachusetts, told ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston. "We really wanted to provide our family with a decent home and to watch…

    Good Morning America
  • Patton Oswalt on His Late Wife Michelle McNamara: 'It Was Love Pretty Much Immediately for Me'

    Patton Oswalt is remembering his first meeting with Michelle McNamara, and reflecting on the happy life they had together before her unexpected death last month. In an interview with People, Oswalt recalled the first time he met his late wife in 2003, and how for him, it was love at first sight. …

    Good Morning America
  • New Photo Shows Last Known Image of Missing Florida Mother

    Authorities have released new information in an urgent search for missing Florida mother and Air Force veteran Tricia Todd. Todd, a 30-year-old hospice nurse, disappeared last Tuesday and police have released surveillance images from a Hobe Sound, Florida, Publix grocery store, saying they believe…

    Good Morning America
  • Zac Posen Reveals Details of Claire Danes' Glow-in-the-Dark Met Gala Gown

    Claire Danes was the belle of the 2016 Met Gala in a Cinderella-like gown that was glow-in-the-dark.The dress’ designer, Zac Posen, revealed today that it was powered by LED lights and made with fabric custom-ordered from France.2016 Met Gala: Inside the Hottest Night in Fashion8 of the Most Unique…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Captain America' Star Anthony Mackie Has Huge Superhero Surprise for Langley Air Force Base

    “Good Morning America” received unprecedented access to the historic Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, the oldest in the country, celebrating its 100th anniversary. Correspondent Jesse Palmer, along with our “GMA” television crew, is the first ever inside this national security nerve center, the…

    Good Morning America