Wearable Clothing User Interface Technology Being Developed

11 July 2013
Ben Logan

Ben Logan


Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

With smart watches and wearable computers such as Google glass being no longer just the charge of science fiction, it now seems not far off until we are using our actual clothing as a computer interface.

Researchers at Cornell University in New York are now able to use textiles to detect disease and radiation, control the release of pesticides and capture hazardous gases. For example, nanofibers that are able to detect and prevent the spread of bacteria can be woven into surgical masks, hospital sheets or even clothing.

It’s not just for practical applications though. Clothes are currently in development that respond to the wearer’s physical reaction, with materials that twinkle when the user laughs or plays musical notes when certain actions are performed.

To compliment these, shoes that can recharge a battery as you walk (which may one day be able to recharge pacemakers, smartphones and other devices) have already been developed by students in Houston’s Rice University.

Although currently in the very early stages and with plenty of testing ahead for the developers of wearable interfaces, these first baby steps of new technology have every chance to blossom into the common place. As Dr Juan Hinestroza of Cornell says of the advances, “I think it will be part of our daily wardrobe. Something as common as today’s pair of jeans.”

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