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More on E-textiles: Electronic Smart Fabric 150

Little Hamster writes "The IEEE spectrum has an article on e-textile, where conductive fibers woven into fabric using standard textile techniques carry power to sensors, actuators and microcontrollers embedded in the cloth. The result is snowmobilers jacket that can detect crashes and txt an SMS message for help, carpet that can detect motion, or a T-shirt that shows videos. Oh, and the smart fabric is washable too."
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More on E-textiles: Electronic Smart Fabric

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  • It's a start (Score:5, Interesting)

    by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <tpaine&gmail,com> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:46PM (#7117477) Journal
    This is the kind of thing we need for Invisiblity Cloaks [], chameleon camouflage [] and Invisible Cars []. Of course we still need a revolution in computing to handle the optic information but it's a start.
    • Re:It's a start (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dustmote ( 572761 )
      I just want a t-shirt that changes picture every so often. Maybe one that I can set for "work mode", so it plays mostly subdued patterns that are suitable for work, and "casual mode", which has whatever t-shirt templates I have downloaded into it from iShirt, or the equivalent. (99 cents a pattern, although I hope some of you will still get seven of them, I know us geeks' reputation for BO already)
      • that's a pretty cool idea. With enough processing power and an embedded microphone, you could probably build or download visualizations and have your shirt do trippy stuff in reaction to the sound around you.
      • Every oldtimer and HAM radio operator knows that you XMT for help, not txt. And for you newcomers and softies, that stands for "transmit".
    • Other than military use, why is there such an obsession here with being Invisible?

      Is it really necessary to accomplish what you're attempting? Besides wouldn't it be dangerous if other's couldn't see you and potentially put you in harm's way? Who would be at fault then, and how would the legal system handle those battles?

      How about using this technology to better society and do something practical, rather than the immature comments about porn and sex, usually found within every Slashdot article.

      Come on gu
      • Invisible clothes for women... Sheesh.

        How about using this technology to better society and do something practical, rather than the immature comments about porn and sex, usually found within every Slashdot article.

        Ooops. ;)


      • immature comments about porn and sex
        Funny, I didn't see anything in my post about sex or porn. As to the relevance of my post, I'm a technophile, this is a technology site .... come to think of it you are right it was completely out of line. I should listen to what pretensios pricks, with their panties in a knot from riding on their high horses, say more often.
    • by mesach ( 191869 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @07:51PM (#7119351)
      I'd rather have a carpet that would change.

      that way when I have a party and someone pukes on it, and its still stained after I clean it up, the carpet can change to match the color of the carpet, and thereby mask the stain...

      Just don't go drinking southern comfort, I don't think that a nuclear orange carpet would look good, but by that thought I can't think of any shade of puke that would look good.
    • "The result is snowmobilers jacket that can detect crashes --" If a snowmobiler [sic] can't detect whether they've crashed or not, they shouldn't be snowmobiling :)
    • Re:It's a start (Score:2, Informative)

      by taylorius ( 221419 )
      Alas, this technology will not enable any (good) invisibility cloaks. If you look at the same piece of fabric from different directions, you'll need to see a different colour to match whatever background it's currently obscuring. Some kind of dynamic holographic cloth could do it, but I'm guessing that's more than a little way off yet.

      I envision a slew of early adopters creeping furtively into women's changing rooms, dressed head to toe in highly non-invisible, brightly patterned gimp suits.
    • Invisiblity Cloaks, chameleon camouflage and Invisible Cars

      Now these actually sounds useful, but having this does not-

      snowmobilers jacket that can detect crashes are driving along, and boom!

      YOU HAVE JUST CRASHED! have a nice day.

      Thanks Mr. Coat... :P

  • by Ikn ( 712788 )
    /me glances over today's headlines So, what we can look forward to seeing are t-shirts that can answer homework questions. Rock on!
  • Oh great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by djhankb ( 254226 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:48PM (#7117508) Homepage
    What happens when my shirt or pants lock up?

  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:48PM (#7117509)
    I told you not to bleach my monitor, it causes all the colors to wash out!

  • What video inputs can I get on my T-shirt?
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux&gmail,com> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:50PM (#7117530) Homepage
    I can't wait until the first time someone says, "Hey, you have a loose thread", yanks it, and gets a voltage shock.

    Hmm...come to think of it, that'd be a worthwhile application...I'd buy one. :)
  • no cheating (Score:5, Funny)

    by Brahmastra ( 685988 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:50PM (#7117534)
    Clothes that report whenever they are being removed to the spouse.
    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      And carpeting that lets her know when you try to sneak back in at 4 A.M.

      Yeah, that's gonna be a big seller.

  • That's what I want animated on my T-shirt.
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:52PM (#7117559)
    a high tech chastity belt!

    Wondering what that guy is doing with your daughter? This sensors on her clothes will monitor everything from body temperature, to heart rate, to surface contact! Using this you can determine if articles have been removed and remotely activate an electric shock - or using the builting GPS, track down the guy and beat him to a pulp the old fasion way!

    Furthermore, the dancing images of Hello Kitty displayed on the clothing will ensure that any girl will be dying to have them! Yours for only $199.99!
  • So if I want to clean these fabrics am I able to just reset the screen memory? o.0
  • Landwarrior (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:53PM (#7117572) Homepage Journal
    The Army has also been a big backer of this sort of technology for their Land Warrior [] program. They want the ability to dynamically update their cammo for a variety of conditions from light to dark, from desert to urban to forest.

    • yes, but what if it crashes? does the whole outfit suddenly turn blue, making the wearer stick out like a sore thumb?

      plain ole cammo for me, thanks!
      • yes, but what if it crashes? does the whole outfit suddenly turn blue, making the wearer stick out like a sore thumb?

        Gives new meaning to "Blue screen of death" does it not? :-)

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:54PM (#7117577)
    I was staring at your video, honest.

    Great, just what the world needs, a Tommy Hilfiger jacket that can implement the [marquee] tag.

  • a likely scenario (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sl0ppy ( 454532 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:54PM (#7117582)
    someone walking down the hall, passes someone with a small handheld computer.

    the handheld computer quickly negotiates with the clothes on the walker's back, when bingo! the break in happens.

    from that point on, the subject walks around with Kick Me! labelled on their back.

    another victim, and a smile breaks out on the person holding the handheld computer.
    • The best part of this is that the jocks would never be able to hack the nerds clothes, but nerds could hack their letterman jackets all day long and they would never know who was doing it! Oh, sweet revenge :)

      Until they decide to just pulverise the first nerd they see :(
  • by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:56PM (#7117607)
    detect when you've run out of TP in a public toilet and send txt for help?

  • for the underwear to short out.

    How well will "e-textile" hold up to moisture??
  • How about a T-shirt that shows a video of the snowmobile crash?

    Otherwise your friends won't believe you when you say how big that cliff was
  • by show me ( 696663 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:57PM (#7117619) Homepage
    Now that's what I call multi-threaded computing!
  • Let's hope Microsoft doesn't get involved with this. All our clothes will be blue...
  • by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @04:58PM (#7117637)
    how 'bout shoes that can detect someone is trying to light a fuse stuck into them?
  • How long until your house gives you a call at work to tell you it's burning down?
  • Why have you remolded your e-jacket into the shape of Darth Vaders Helmet?

    Its ok, I've modded it..
  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @05:03PM (#7117689)

    So now when I get my coffee from that darling teeny-bopper downstairs I'll be forced to see Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake VIDEOS on her shirts. Oh the pain.

    Well, at least that gives me an excuse to stare.
    "I was just entranced by your... video, HONEST!"
  • So now when I stare at a girl's butt, I can say "No, no. I was just watching TV." Maybe criminals can walk around in jumpsuits that constantly replay their crime on it. So anyone who sees them can see exactly what horrific act they have done. Instead of pinning a note to my kid's shirt before they leave for home, now the teacher can just download a little movie clip of exactly what they did do. "No I wasn't grabbing your ass, I was adjusting the reception." The ideas are just endless.
  • I'm still waiting on my spiffy new polo shirt made from unstable molecules, Mr. Fantastic. </comicgeek>
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 02, 2003 @05:04PM (#7117703)
    Put a uniquie indentifier in your razor and everyone is pissed put an ENTIRE F***ing COMPUTER in your shirt and noone thinks that might be a little open to abuse?
  • Um. (Score:2, Funny)

    by toothfish ( 596936 )
    A flexible data bus in Sensatex's SmartShirt prototype carries signals from various sensors plugged into connectors in the shirt to a controller at the waist. An optical fiber woven through the shirt can detect penetration by a bullet.

    I'm not sure I'd need sensors on my shirt to be able to tell if it had been penetrated by a bullet-- unless I was far enough away from my shirt, and then I'd wonder why it was getting shot at.
    • unless I was far enough away from my shirt, and then I'd wonder why it was getting shot at.

      You mean, if you're in the shirt, you know why it's being shot at? What did you do?! ;)


  • I'm suprised there's no mention of the Burton Amp Jacket with sleeve based controls for your iPod. [] mmm.. me like.. They only mention this [] goofy looking jacket. Looks like he's got a PCB up his sleeve by the outline of the control surface surrounding the buttons. Burton/Apple did a better job IMHO.
  • Clothes have been smarter than many of the people who wear them for years.
  • by HungWeiLo ( 250320 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @05:07PM (#7117732)
    snowmobilers jacket that can detect crashes and txt an SMS message for help, carpet that can detect motion, or a T-shirt that shows videos

    What about some moral fiber that can detect corrupt CEO's?

  • Impractical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @05:15PM (#7117812) Homepage Journal
    The biggest problem with ideas like this is that they sound so great in theory and work so poorly in reality. The CyberJack fans (Neuromancer (sp?), Tek War, etc.) would have you believe that in the future everyone will want technology integrated into their bodies. Yet look at the most popular Sci-Fi such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Note the general lack of bodily implants and the revulsion such ideas produce. Sure, use the technology to make a blind man see or change one's appearance for spy work, but as a standard procedure? Nobody wants it! They simply want their technology like a protective cocoon. The very idea of mutilating one's self in the name of "progress" is seen as evil. (Case and point: The Borg)

    Electronic wearables are an exciting field with tremendous possibilities (such as clothing that stays a constant temperature) but don't expect people to be too excited about anything more than passive systems.

    • THe same people who are getting multiple piercings and tatoos with green hair and punk clotes today are the same ones who in 100 years will have the video screens built into their chests and the headlines playing across their forehead. Everyone else will just have animplanted hone and nanotech medical devices. Exelent comic series BTW
    • The biggest problem with ideas like this is that they sound so great in theory and work so poorly in reality.

      ... CyberJack ... Star Wars ... Star Trek ...

      Only on /. would you see a statement like the first, backed up by citing examples from Science Fiction. ;)

      • Science Fiction is useful in this case for pointing out what people actually want the future to be like. The questionable science doesn't always make it practical, but that doesn't stop people from trying to make it a reality. Or are you arguing that Star Trek was popular because people don't want the future to be like it? ;-)
        • Are you suggesting that a few science fiction tv shows speak for everyone ?
          If so, why can't I point at Bladerunner, Neuromancer and a dozen other "cyberpunk" authors as counter example ?

          Perhaps they were popular because they were Soap Opera in Space ?

          • > Are you suggesting that a few science fiction tv shows speak for everyone ?

            Nope. I'm suggesting that the popularity of those shows speaks volumes for those who enjoy them. As another poster pointed out, the "cyber-elite" would most likely be in minority in the same way that the fans of various "cyberpunk" authors are in minority.

            > Perhaps they were popular because they were Soap Opera in Space ?

            Last I checked, Star Trek and Star Trek TNG hardly qualified as "Soap Opera" (DS9 is arguable, but it
        • Alistar Renyolds 'Revelation Space' series of books is another example. In fact, there is a war going on between two human factions, one who heavily augments their brains with nanotechnology and another who is quite revulsed by the concept and makes it look evil in their propaganda techniques.
    • Gotta love this. Only on Slashdot would an intelligent opinion be proclaimed as "Troll". (rolls eyes)

    • My main concern with getting actual implants would be upgradeability. As it is today, if my computer is old and doesn't do what I need it to anymore, I can buy a new one. Imagine if you had to have surgery whenever you wanted to upgrade? Imagine if some of the implants were non-reversible or upgradeable. We all know how computers die after a few years.....what about if something like this dies in your body and you can't remove it?

  • by robogun ( 466062 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @05:17PM (#7117831)
    "Drying mode on...
    "Your jacket is now dry."
  • This could be applied by a frustrated, untrusting citizenry.

    we could force all elected and appointed government officials to wear "lie detectorware". the fabric turns beet red whenever they spout bullshit.

  • ...when I read this part:

    Eventually, buildings could also be augmented with camera arrays inconspicuously embedded into wallpaper fabric to scan for intruders. In CMU's prototype, every sensing node uses small cameras and Atmel 8051 processors, running at 70 MHz and consuming up to 500 mW each, to analyze images for possible security breaches and then stream the video to a central display. Redundant devices keep the system running in case of local battery depletion or other types of failures.

    But then qu
    • Major corporate security systems today (for the most part) focus more on event based video rather than constant surveillance.

      The thinking here is that if a security officer stares at a bank of monitors for an entire shift, day after day, and nothing is happening, it just becomes a blur. However, with event based video, the video pops up only when events (such as door forced open, or door held open) occur. Much more of an attention getter.

      I would think the facilities folks would be more interested in thi
  • No thanks (Score:2, Funny)

    by ecantona ( 322912 )
    Software controls the communications inside the on-fabric network and can send radio signals using Bluetooth or any flavor of the IEEE 802.11 wireless standard to PCs and PDAs, and over the Internet.

    I am sure someone can find a way to hack it and put malicious content on your t-shirt. Let say you are walking down the street and suddenly someone put some porn on your shirt, that can be very embarrassing .

  • Ya, but is it reversable?


  • to the first person who develops the hack to make a woman's clothes show me what's on the other side.

  • Now women can be fully dressed yet appear completely nude. As strippers dance each piece of clothing will slowly display the image of the persons body directly beneath it.
    Not only that but magine the other possibilities:

    furry bush for the first dance, landing strip for the second dance, slip & slide clean for the third dance, and back to furry bush for the fourth dance.

    If the guy requesting a lap dance likes big round nipples, no problem. When the next guy wants small nipples, he's happy too.


  • Why would I want a cell phone/pda/mp3/etc. in my shirt/pants/jacket/etc? That would mean I would have to either wear the same shirt/pants/jacket/etc every day, or several articles of clothing would need to be wired.

    And if that happened, which one would ring when I got a call and was in the shower?? The towel or the toilet cover??
  • Teeshirt which can display text +
    GPS tracking of Daryl McBride =

    The perfect "I'm with stupid" teeshirt.
  • by spartan ( 30665 )
    This is probably what China did when US Army GEN Eric Shinseki, formerly Chief of Staff of the Army, ordered the Army to wear Black Berets. China actually landed some of the contracts for producing these berets and are now tracking US soldiers as they deploy around the world.
  • by Zildy ( 32593 ) on Thursday October 02, 2003 @06:23PM (#7118520)
    Norton AntiVirus for Clothing 2003 3-Ply Edition
  • to go with my computer-in-an-overcoat. 10-20 years and maybe we'll all wear our entire business. Just put on your glasses and start working.
  • Oh, and the smart fabric is washable too.

    Are you saying that us slashdotters would pursue technological godliness even if it meant we had to be stinky and sweaty all the time?
  • Ok, not that I in any way doubt that there are immense applications for this technology, but the person/people who came up with the possible applications is/are morons. "A fire chief...could order his team out when the sensors they're wearing transmit data back to his command center telling him that the firefighters are inhaling hazardous fumes or too much smoke or that the fire is too hot to handle." How about just telling THEM so THEY can get the hell out under their own initiative? And "Such attire co
  • Flying Cars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bugmaster ( 227959 ) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:49AM (#7121823) Homepage
    The article is very heavy on breathless anticipation, and very light on details. It reminds me of all the "flying cars" types of articles from the 50s. Oh, how wonderful will it be when each household can have a flying car ! No more traffic congestion ! And the cars will fly themselves, too -- just push a button ! Golly gee ! Etc. etc.

    Yes, I agree, I would love to put on my e-textile t-shirt, hop into my flying car, and fly it to my vacation villa on the Moon. But, as far as I can tell, these technologies are a long, long way off from actual implementation. Our current limits right now are power storage (all that Bluetooth needs to be fed), durability and size (small chips are fine, but we are talking hundreds of pretty powerful computers), architecture (implementing that automatic handoff on failure is hard), cost (buy an e-shirt now ! Only $9999.99 !"), and dozens of other things. Until we can overcome these problems, I am not holding my breath.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen