Clothes don’t think, you say. So how can they be smart or dumb? (Aside from those stupid pants that just don’t minimize your derriere the way they should.)
When electronics are crossed with high tech fabrics, clothes will appear to think. Nanotechnology will allow sensors and simple computers to be placed within textile fibers, thereby allowing clothes to be far more than a means of covering the body.
Here, in no particular order, are some innovations that people are working on:
Clothes to keep track of your body’s health. The fabric monitors the body’s vital signs to detect infections and illnesses at their earliest stages.
In a similar vein, how about a smart bra to detect breast cancer at an early stage? Supposedly, the sensors will detect abnormal temperature changes (which are associated with cancer cells) in breast tissue.
Clothes that change color at different temperatures? Well, don’t you want to know if that man gets hot just from looking at you?
Clothes that generate their own energy to power your personal electronics, such as ipods, cell phones, etc.
Clothes that repel insects. Handy, but this next one is better.
Clothes that repel men! That is, men you think are creepy. How does this work? Someone is working on a fabric system that releases small bursts of scent so that you can slightly adjust your scent to repel someone at will. If that’s not enough for you, you could try the “No Contact Jacket” which gives an electroshock to someone trying to grab you. (You’d probably get a seat on the subway with that gear.)
The scent system also is supposed to work to allow you to attract someone. Now that could be useful in a romance novel.
Here’s one that I would never be able to resist – clothes that clean themselves!! A winner!
How about clothes that show images, animation and messages so you can communicate without speaking. Hmmm…don’t we have enough ways to do that already?
Why did I do this research? I was writing a futuristic novel which will be under contract soon and I thought it might useful to think about what people might wear in the future. Actually, I was quite surprised to uncover all these ideas scientists have about how to make our "second skins" more useful. (This research is mainly funded by the military, medical and sports industries.)
I did discover that some things never change. Check out these images of clothes of the future.
On the right, the woman, is looking - sexually available! (Or at least that's a common male fantasy of an available woman.)
Though at least some of these scientific innovations seem useful, I can't help but think that clothing will always be as much for decoration as for function. What do you think?