Smart Clothes

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 left is the man, fully covered, looking kind of sleek and ready for anything. (Okay, the headgear is ridiculous, and nothing competes with a kilt...but I digress.)

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?


Linda Warren said...

How interesting. Loved the health clothes. Wouldn't it be great to have something tell us when we're going to be ill? Very futuristic.

Repel Insects -I'm all for. Repel men - that could work, but it sounds rather complicated.

Future clothes - different, very different. I had to smile at the woman's. Don't see many women like that.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

Natasha said...

Great post, Carly. Really interesting possibilities on the horizon. But yeah, I hope clothing will also continue to be decorative...and unique. I'd hate to see society dictate uniform clothing in the future.

Carly Carson said...

Hi Linda,

Yes, the clothes will be able to foretell illness, but the more important goal is to help people with chronic illnesses manage their disease/treatment (pacemakers and such). Of course, clothes won't replace the doctor!


I agree. I don't think the world will ever be ready for uniforms on everyone. Though who knows?

Nicole North said...

Fascinating post, Carly! I love learning about new scientific discoveries. A part of me is a science nerd. LOL

Mageela Troche said...

I wonder how many of these will never leave the idea stage and which might be part of the future's daily life like our jeans are now. But one thing is for sure Carly, I refuse to give up my t-shirt and sweats. I couldn't write otherwise.

Carly Carson said...


I guess it's obvious I'm a science nerd, huh? I just love it.


Some of it is well underway and I think will happen. Some of it, well I'm not sure it's ultimately useful. And I'm sure there will be more things no one has thought up yet. (I want the clothes that clean themselves.)

Thanks to all for stopping by.

Carol Ericson said...

Carly, those are so cool. Now I wonder if any of those clothes are comfortable?