How smart are your clothes? “Smart Fabrics” refer to cloth with conductive fibers that act like wires, transmitting power or signals. Sound like science fiction?
- Katy Perry wore a dress with integral LEDs to the Metropolitan Costume Ball in 2010.
- Under Armour E39 shirts, Adidas sports bras, Clothing+ sports bras, and others are products that are designed measure physiology of an athlete: heart rate, EKG, etc. Riddell’s G Shock Helmets contain integrated sensors to evaluate the force from an impact; some NFL players are testing it in practices. (Mechanical Engineering, September 2011, p 20.)
- Ford created car seats that can measure heart rate while Toyota prototyped steering wheels with integral sensors.
- “A Silicon Valley start-up, Bam Labs, devised a health-care monitor that does its work unobtrusively from beneath the patient’s mattress-no wires needed.
- A thin inflatable pad contains motion sensors that are acute enough to pick up heartbeats and breathing patterns, not to mention the movements that signal sleeplessness or leaving the bed… The sensors wirelessly transmit the readings to a nearby networking device, which forwards them to cloud-based serves; from there, caregivers can get the information on smartphones or computers.” The Wall Street Journal, Your Mattress is Watching, November 12-13, 2011.
For further evidence that people want to monitor their vital signs, look at the number of apps and equipment for sale that are dedicated to measuring the body: exercise monitors, heart rate, stress measurement, etc.
In addition to Katy Perry’s LED dress, fashion designers are working on practical applications as well. A so-called No-Contact Jacket produces an electric shock to anyone who touches it, like an electric eel. O’Neill’s Superkini is a bikini made of ultrafine polyester made to stick to the skin but also withstand strong waves without slipping out of place. (Wall Street Journal, Next: Bikinis That Stick to Skin and Jackets With a Jolt. March 31-Apri l1, 2012). A HoodieBuddie, which is a fleece zip up hoodie with drawstrings that double as headphones. (hoodiejams.com, May 20, 2012). Other products on the market include doctor’s scrubs that repel blood and a wash and wear tuxedo. “Also on the radar are uniforms embedded with light-emitting diodes that produce glowing promotional images; or uniform made of “smart fabrics” woven with sensors to monitor the condition of soldiers, firefighters or other workers assigned to dangerous environments.” (Wall Street Journal, Work Wear Hits Pay Dirt, January 26, 2011.)
Ready to go shopping?