In the near future, if you did not bring your phone charger, it means one thing: you don’t have your pants on. Just as mobile phones untethered a lot of users from their personal computers, smart clothing is prepared to bring gadgets and personal electronics out of everyone’s pocket and onto our sleeves.
Today’s generation of wearable gadgets and technology, in general, that includes watches, and smart glasses are still more questionable than mainstream. Devices like Google Glass became irrelevant, even before it started to gain popularity, and people who bought fitness gadgets like trackers, lose interest after months of using. To know more about today’s wearable technology, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_technology.
But clothing with devices will have an edge when it comes to integration. Most people will get that the wearable technology is starting to get noticed by the general public, but they don’t think they it is worth to get up every day and remember to wear them. Gadgets and clothes are different.
If you integrate the devices into your clothes, that’s a different story. Technology-laden clothes are right next to your body. The surface area is large compared to personal gadgets, not to mention it goes with you everywhere. That kind of access is rich with chances and opportunity.
A lot of advance clothing is already sold in the market today like bathing suits with ultraviolet sensors to alert people who are sunbathing, or gloves with heat-conducting wires that warm your hands-on cold days. The engineers have set their goals on souped-up clothing that will make the life of the people more convenient and better looking.
The first thing to do is to refashion the conventional electronics
Traditional digital displays and battery packs are too heavy and rigid to be weaved into clothes. Engineers are trying to create more flexible and lightweight devices that can perform, but also comfortable to use like their counterparts. Once engineers figure out how to build something that is wearable and effective, they should also make sure that it is strong enough to withstand its run in the laundry as well as the daily wear and tear.
Most next-generation clothing is still years away from hitting the market. Most of those technologies have not left the research facilities yet. But gear enthusiasts, as well as fashionistas, can look forward to the future where electronic garments will be featured in fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle. Here is the sneak peek of what’s in store for us shortly.
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Fashions change on the fly
Clothing that is made from color-changing yarns can give a new meaning to the phrase “It goes with anything.” A lot of color-changing textiles today, like shirts that are sun-activated that changes color when exposed to sunlight, are triggered by the change in body heat or lighting.
Manufacturers have developed clothes that can change colors using your smartphones. These clothes are made from special yarns that are as thick as a strand of the human hair. The threads are made of copper wires is a polymer sleeve. The sleeve can be nylon, polyester or other materials, depending on the sturdiness or the softness of the fabric that you want to use.
The sleeves are then laced with pigments that change color depending on the temperature around it. The change in tone is too subtle; the wearer can’t feel it. The user can change the cloth’s appearance by sending a signal via Wi-Fi from their smartphone to the battery that is attached to the garment. The battery then feeds current to the yarn’s copper wire that will hear the pigments to activate the change in color.
Want to know how thermochromic materials work? Visit https://www.explainthatstuff.com/thermochromic-materials.html.
The threads that are used can make the clothes rotate between stripes, solid, or plaid patterns. People who can’t decide what color to wear will benefit from this technology. The big question is, can the technology benefit the rest of us? The answer is yes. For example, if you spill food on your shirt, you can hide the stain using a darker hue. If you are biking under the sun or at night, you can change the color of your shirt depending on the weather.
If you have no clothes to use because you forgot to do your laundry, you can use the same shirt without everyone noticing. Just change the color, and it’s like a brand-new shirt. These fabrics can be used for car upholstery, bags, curtains or furniture.
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Patches that can power up using your moves and the sun
After a day’s work, no one wants to take off their shirt, plug it in and wait to go fully charged. So why not make a wearable that converts motion and sunlight energy into electricity? Research has been done with this king of energy-harvesting clothes. They are made out of wool fibers and synthetic polymers.
They are very flexible, breathable and lightweight. Imagine patches for clothes made out of solar panel-like or motion sensor materials that can charge gadgets like mobile phones or music players. That would be legendary. Sunlight-catching patches are threaded with photo-sensitive wires that when exposed to sunlight, it will knock off electrons out of the atoms, leaving behind a positively charged particle that produce energy.
You can put these patches in clothes, bags, even in shoes or any things that can be exposed to sunlight. If you are worried about the design of these patches, whether they are fashionable or not, you can always customize the patches to suit your taste. Check out patches from manufacturer’s official website to get ideas for the design you want to use.
Another kind of patches can transform the motion energy into electricity — these patches contain strips of polymer materials called PTFE, laced with copper wires. The PTFE can gather electrons, when rubbed together, causing static energy that you can then convert into usable energy. These patches can be sewn into the sleeves of your shirt to generate power while you are swinging your arms.
You can also put the patches into the sole of the shoes or the inner part of your left where there is friction. The energy gathered by these motions or solar patches can be stored in a battery or capacitor attached to your garments. The storage device can be made out of ink containing silver-zinc oxide printed to the clothes.