When science and fashion blend, intriguing things are known to happen. Would you like to wear clothes that change their shape and color? New research from Canada’s Concordia University can actually make this become reality.
The computerized, smart fabrics developed by scientists are highly interactive. They not only change their color and shape according to the wearer’s movements, but are also able to store energy from your body, which you can then use to power up your phone or other similar gadgets.
The project, known under the name Karma Chameleon, is led by Professor Joanna Berzowska, head of the university’s Design and Computation arts Department. What makes the project stand out among other, similar ideas is that the electronic functions responsible for its unique behavior are actually woven into the fabric instead of being merely attached to it. The fibers used are composite materials which consist of several polymer layers interacting with each other.
No actual clothing has been yet manufactured from these fabrics, but the researchers collaborated with fashion designers in developing conceptual prototypes to show how these garments would be in action.
Professor Berzowska believes there is still a long way to go, perhaps 20 or 30 years, until we will be able to actually find such clothing in stores. However, the smart fabrics come with ample practical possibilities and would have multiple applications.
One such application would be in the military. By using these smart fabrics, soldiers’ uniforms would become lighter and easier to wear, replacing the heavy and cumbersome cabling and batteries currently carried around by troops. The fabrics could also be programmed to warm wearers, eliminating the need for thick clothes, even in very cold weather.
It may sound a bit too avant-garde for your taste, but the smart fabrics have every chance to actually become reality, as a growing number of scientists all over the world are trying to turn clothing into something more. Wearing outfits that can change their color or shape and keep your smartphone charged sounds interesting enough, but ask yourself if you would really like to put on clothes that modify their appearance based on your movements.