Our clothing physically protects our bodies and helps us express who we are – but should we expect it to do more? Wearable technology that can be integrated right into textiles and garments are starting to make it possible to detect levels of pollution in our immediate environments, and even help filter the air around us. Here are five notable examples, including a few runway-worthy dresses and a unisex jacket with amazing high-tech capabilities. Put together, these are some pretty smart clothes.
CO2 Dress Makes Greenhouse Gases Look Pretty
Who would have thought that the process of detecting high levels of CO2 in the air could be so beautiful? The CO2 dress visualizes the level of this greenhouse gas in the air in real-time, using a pattern of over 100 flickering LED lights sewn into the fabric. A microprocessor and CO2 sensor, which was worn in the hair of the model for the runway debut at the Bright Green Expo in Copenhagen, relays the data to the dress.
‘Warning Signs’ Pollution-Detecting T-Shirt
When carbon monoxide levels from smoke, traffic or a faulty heating system get dangerously high, this high-tech shirt called ‘Warning Signs’ will let you know. The t-shirt, designed by two students from New York University, features either a heart or a pair of lungs that flash blue veins when sensors detect above-average levels of this deadly and difficult-to-detect substance.
EPA Dress Wrinkles When the Air Quality is Poor
Wrinkles are generally not something we want to see in our clothing, but in the case of the EPA dress, they say a lot more than whether we pulled a crumpled garment out of the hamper to wear that day. The dress actually wrinkles in response to poor air quality. It’s embedded with sensors that read the surrounding atmosphere, and translate it visually into wrinkles in the fabric.
Color-Changing Dress Indicates Rain pH
This gorgeous cabbage-dyed “Rain Palette” dress by Dahea Sun changes from palest lavender to violet to a vivid pink to indicate air quality at a glance. The dress is dyed with water-soluble pigments commonly found in red cabbages, blackberries and eggplant, and acts as a pH indicator. Anyone wearing the dress becomes an instant pH monitor, showing the public the acid levels of the rain. Wearers can use a smartphone app to scan and upload color changes to a cloud-based database, showing air quality trends on a global scale.
Named after the shield of Zeus, the Aegis jacket by Dutch design firm Niewe Heren is windproof, waterproof, and breathable. Oh yeah – and it’s got a built-in electronic air sensor that detects the six most common air pollutants. When the air quality is poor, the jacket lets the wearer know using LED lights, so they can strap on an integrated respirator fitted with a carbon cloth to filter gases, vapors and particle pollution. That’s pretty amazing, but this jacket’s pollution-fighting abilities go even further than that. The treated surface of the fabric releases oxidizers into the air when hit by UV light, effectively destroying any airborne pollutant that touches it.
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