How New Hardware Could Transform Custom Clothes into Smartphones
[caption id="attachment_1788" align="aligncenter" width="537"] Image source: Ecouterre.com[/caption] Put on your space helmet and strap on your rocket boots, because we're about to leap into the future with the latest crazy science-fiction invention. A short while ago, I pointed out how Google Glass was poised to change the future of clothing by revitalizing clothing-based marketing campaigns. Well, apparently I wasn't the only one imagining a new future for clothing thanks to Google Glasses. Peratech has been working with the London College of Fashion and University of the Arts London to create wearable computer hardware. We've all seen movies or TV shows where some super advanced alien or person from the future interacts with a computer device that's somehow integrated into his arm. Probably the most famous example is the computer gauntlet from Predator (warning: this video contains spoilers for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet). http://youtu.be/i2roFfijDXM The computer gauntlet is pretty bulky, but it gets the job done. I think that most people would probably rather stick to mobile phones rather than wearing around a gigantic five-pound steel gauntlet all day. Peratech hopes to take the functionality of a wrist gauntlet while ditching the terrible aesthetic by incorporating the technology directly into your clothing. Imagine having invisible computer interfaces stitched into any article of clothing you want. For example, you would be able to sit down, tell Google Glasses to turn on the computer keyboard, and then type out an email on the LED-lit keyboard that just appeared on your pants -- kind of like this, except not nearly as ugly. [caption id="attachment_1789" align="aligncenter" width="608"] Image source: Cultofmac.com[/caption] Peratech's clothing would allow for touch-sensitive interaction, meaning that you could have clothing that interacts with the user at the push of a button. David Lussey, the CTO of Peratech, explained the potential of this new hardware, "[glasses with computer displays] lack a simple way to input and interact with them. With our technology, you could print a keyboard onto a sleeve or onto the back of a glove and link it via Bluetooth to the glasses. Or even a rectangle of touch sensitive QTC material to act as a touchpad and respond to multi-touch gesture inputs of pinch, stretch, flick, etc." What could you do with this type of technology? Well, really you're only limited by your imagination. The most obvious application is to use embroidery or screen printing to create an interface with hardware. Having buttons hidden all over your clothing would be convenient, but it would be hard to use them if the buttons are invisible. [caption id="attachment_1790" align="aligncenter" width="420"] Image source: Brandrepublic.com[/caption] This technology enables a future where people will be able to interact with their clothing in truly meaningful ways. It might not seem like much now, but if you had told somebody 30 years ago that we would be able to access every scrap of knowledge with a telephone then you'd probably get laughed at. In a few years, computer-integrated clothing might be as common as iPads and E-Zpasses. In fact, that future might be closer than any of us imagine. Stars are already lighting up the red carpet (literally) with LED dresses. How long before that technology becomes widely available?