Smart clothes, geek chic

07.31.06 | 2 Comments

A couple of my prior entries, the smart bikini and buzz off hat, were about clothing that was capable of doing a little more than covering us up (yes, I know it was a bikini and a hat) and being stylish. So I set off to discover what else could be categorized in the smartwear world. (Note: I’m something of an obsessive autodidact, once something like this interests me, it becomes my mission to learn everything possible about it.)

Whenever I explore a new area like this, I find it helpful to establish some sort of framework to view the area through. My initial explorations have led me to establish some high-level categories to lump smart clothing innovations.

  • Material innovations
    • Phase Change – Uses phase changes (solid to liquid) for benefit
    • Shape Memory – Uses current to form (or reform) to a set shape
    • Chromic – Uses external stimulus (light, heat, liquid, pressure) to change properties (color is most frequent)
    • Conductive – Uses high metallic content to gain benefit (insulation, EMI shield, sensing, etc.)
  • Integration innovations
    • Energy – Photovoltaic (solar) cells, batteries, and hand generators
    • Electronic/Communication – mobile communication devices, ipods, and gps with an emphasis on hands-free
    • Chemical – Weatherproofing, insect repellent, and stain resistance
    • Sensor – Primarily medical or athletic performance monitoring sensors/devices

As I learn more, no doubt these categories will be revised, but this is the starting place. Over the next few blog entries, I’ll share what I’ve learned about each category with as many examples as I can find.

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