Weaving intelligence into clothes

Written by on June 12, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Male shirts exposed in the clothes shopWhen a story about connected jeans flicked across the screen, our reaction was to forward it to @tonypoulos for his regular round-up of the Internet of Silly Things (IoST). What stopped us was that the story was about old jean giant Levi Strauss and new giant disruptor Google. Ultimately it is a very clever idea and we have put it the pile called the Internet of Clever Things (IoCT) – alongside this one.

Essentially, Project Jaquard weaves an interface into fabric. This makes clothes and other fabrics ‘intelligent.’

If it wasn’t for the Apple Watch (other brands are available) it might seem a far-fetched idea. But the Apple Watch, as we speak being tested by DisruptiveViews’ operatives, is a really cool – and actually useful – extension of the iPhone. This provides a stepping stone in understanding the potential of clothing as an input device.

Weaving conductive fabric into clothes allows, at an entry-level, for you to swipe the sleeve of your jacket to make your phone call someone. Or to tell you the weather forecast. Possibly much more.

But weaving intelligence into clothes takes the result beyond ‘technology’ and, as such, the only barrier is imagination. Imagine clothing that gets to know you, jeans that can react not only to temperature, but your own comfort levels. The fabric relaxes as the temperature climbs, contracts when it falls. A click of a button (literally a shirt button) and you share your location until the person you are meeting finds you – even if they have never met you before. Shopping bags with icons that you can touch in order to add certain things to your shopping list. Sheets in hospitals that act as monitors and can send information on patients’ vital signs, without all those tubes and beeping machinery. Sheets that can cool down or warm up…

To those of us who have been around a while it seems like slightly wild and wind-swept technology. To those who are infants now, intelligent clothing will be the way the world works. So, to see this as just another device, an input mechanism, is short-sighted. This is another step change in the evolution towards real, built-in, intelligence.

This is proper wearable technology.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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