An explosion of “smart” clothes is changing the way we access technology. And big strides in these so-called “wearables” are coming out of Georgia Tech, where devices have been designed for health purposes (hand-washing reminders) and research tools (communicating with dolphins). Others—like the three prototypes below by students, professors, and researchers at Tech—are just plain cool.
This chameleon-like dress, woven with 600 LED lights, can be programmed in any imaginable color—and also to reflect the hues of an uploaded image, your companion, or your surroundings. It can even be adjusted in real time (via computer or smartphone app) if you decide you need a last-minute wardrobe change. Developed by Zane Cochran and Sonia McCall
This ordinary-looking tracksuit is made of an “e-textile,” woven with conductive thread that picks up the body’s movement. LED lights along the white stripes change color in response—very useful in, say, ballet classes, where the visual feedback can help students align their movements with those of the teacher. Developed by Emily Keen
This chic leather prototype—yes, that’s ostrich—uses metallic thread, fabric, and Velcro to create “soft circuits” (conductors of electricity). Dim the lights or change a presentation slide simply by pressing embroidery on the sleeve. Developed by Clint Zeagler, Scott Gilliland, James Clawson, and David Quigley
Top tech This month Georgia Tech is submitting the PIXI dress to the 19th annual International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Osaka, Japan—the world’s top conference on the subject, which includes a juried design competition.
This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue under the headline “Gadget Garments.”