Tech in Clothing - Wearables in the Most Real Sense
Some are still coming to terms with the fact that virtually everyone on earth is carrying around a powerful computer in their pocket. Mobile phone technology, once the stuff of ridicule having users carry around hefty “bricks,” has leapt forward so fast that it defies belief. Now, powerful, portable computers are the order of the day, and it’s incredible. We can access our emails from anywhere, play at an online casino in the palm of our hand, and surf the web on a mobile phone that’s only a bit bigger than a credit card!
Just how far can it go, everyone is asking? And the answer is obvious; instead of carrying around our technology in our pockets, why not simply wear it? But wearable technology already exists, doesn’t it? In the form of smartwatches. No, we’re talking about technology built right into your clothing. It’s the science fiction future we read about becoming reality, and if you thought portable computers was impressive, take a look at some of the stuff you could be soon wearing.
Water Repellent Clothing
We’ll get to the clothing with built in computers in a second, but let’s first talk about clothing that utilises new water repellent technology. A waterproof jacket, you say, there’s nothing special about that, we’ve had raincoats for centuries… No, what we’re talking about here is a jacket that literally pushes water off its surface in a way that may make your jaw drop. The Apex Flex GTX is a jacket that will not allow water, any water, to settle on it’s surface. The fabric will remain clear of even a single drop of water, always.
The secret is a waterproof coating known as GORE-TEX, and yes the name is perhaps a bit over the top, but what it can achieve is truly impressive. The flexible, ultra-waterproof substance applied to any surface means that that surface is staying dry, no matter what. The down side? The price, of course. The Apex Flex GTX is not cheap. But as with all emerging tech, as it becomes more mainstream it may see a price reduction as demand increases.
And here we have, at last, a jacket that syncs to a smartphone, and allows the user to control smartphone functionality with gestures. Titled as the Google x Levi’s Project Jacquard, this piece of clothing is said to be threaded with multiple strands of smart fibre. What smart fibre is, is anyone’s guess, but what it allows the user to do is operate a synced mobile phone via arm gestures. For example, pausing a song playing on the phone is as simple as giving the jacket wrist a little tap.
It sounds cool, but one can’t help that the system could get very confusing. After all, the smart jacket will surely not tell the difference between intentional, and unintentional movements. One assumes that there are measures in place to prevent this, but that remains to be seen when the jackets start becoming common. Will they though, at a cost of $350 for a denim jacket?
Advanced Apparel Exploration
And now we get to the truly wacky stuff. What makes a piece of clothing high quality, you ask? Decent fabric, strong stitching, and quality work? Wrong. What makes clothing high quality is creating it from a single strand of unbroken fabric. Wait, what? Why?
Adidas has created a system that weaves clothing from a single strand of fabric, in what sounds to be a very complicated process. And, although very proud of this and willing to explain in detail how the process works, Adidas is less quick to explain why it is beneficial in any way.
Either way, the technology for this now exists, although looking at the clothing created in this fashion; one wonders why they caused such a fuss. Called the AAE 1.0, it looks very much like a t-shirt, and nothing more.
The above is just scratching the surface of technology that exists right now. But where might such technology go in the future? Nanotechnology. It’s probably a word some are aware of, given its appearance in many science fiction stories. But nanotechnology is no longer science fiction, and will soon be appearing in our clothing.
What is it? Engineering on a molecular level, with potential that is all but mind bending. Fancy a flexible fabric that is as tough as steel? Or how about a transparent, flexible substance, that is bulletproof? It’s theoretically possible, with nanotechnology. In it’s infancy now, Nanotex, an existing company, is working to make these things possible, so the future of wearables is still one that we need to get ready to explore.