Making Tech Wearable: Part 3 – Creative Clothing

As we wrap up our series on the rise and shear potential of wearable technology – from staying fit to changing the way we may interpret reality; soon even our clothing could soon do so much more in little or huge ways in both practical and fashionable ways. Whilst these new and near future innovations may seem to be something from a science fiction space opera and only available from huge corporations; the creator of the next innovation could even be you!

For devices such as the fitness trackers or Heads Up Displays as featured in our previous articles; the current or past hurdles have mainly been size, power efficiency, and processing power. However when making tech truly wearable – where the technology is actually part of your clothing – that provides some additional hurdles for innovators to tackle. The main factor is that the tech has to work seamlessly with the fabric of the clothing (pun intended), as fabric typically has to be highly durable; from bending/creasing/folding/twisting/stretching, to heat & moisture from activity or cleaning.

Despite these immediate hurdles; there is huge potential, with several ideas in the works and several more available for purchase already. One example is the development into flexible solar panels, which could be a source of recharging energy for our current typically power-hungry smartphones and other tech devices. However not every person spends long periods of time outdoors, or at least enough to capture enough charge. Solar panels rely on light from the sun, hence their name – however there is a charging option that only requires movement – kinetic energy chargers. The Ampy by Stryde Technologies Inc. is one such device. Whilst it is currently about the size of a typical mens-style wallet, it has huge potential  for charging your devices on the go, possibly even your devices charging themselves internally via your movements in the near future.

The practical applications of wearable technology incorporated into your clothing are virtually limitless in terms of ideas, such as power generation , bio-monitoring, fitness; there is even potential for research and development into materials that adapt to different environments without the use of power, i.e. shifting shape in higher temperatures to aid in more efficient ventilation for the wearer, etc.

As exciting as the practical ideas are for wearable tech, there is also tremendous potential for artistic expression and fashion, combining science and art in both subtle and eye-catching ways. One readily available technology that can be implemented by the average hobbyist is electroluminescence, or EL. How EL functions is by passing current through a phosphor to generate a glow, and is available in wires or flat shapes. One of the more public uses of this tech was the 2010 Disney motion picture Tron Legacy, where the costumes used by the actors were illuminated via EL as a practical effect rather than CGI.

Whilst such clothes may not be readily available just yet at stores such as the new Eastland Shopping Centre near our Ringwood Store, many of us here at PC Medic are very much excited to see how this technology develops, and of course if you have any questions or concerns about the tech in your life, feel free to give us a call or send us an email.