Wouldn't it be awesome if your watch could tell you who was calling on your cellphone? Or your jacket warmed and cooled in response to the weather? What if a police officer could take a video of an escaping thief simply by pulling on a Velcro switch on his uniform? Or your doctor could remotely monitor your vital signs via a pendant worn around your neck?
The concept of "smart clothes" may sound like something out of James Bond or "Minority Report," but the enabling technology already exists. Microprocessors are now the size of a fingernail. Conductive textiles with wiring woven into the fabric are on the market. Bluetooth is ubiquitous.
Though not much is available commercially yet, you can see prototypes of wearable technology in the Contextual Computing Group lab at Georgia Tech, which is in the forefront of research in this area.
For instance, students in computer science and industrial design collaborated during fall term to produce a hoodie jacket with a built-in reminder system. The wearer tags keys, wallet and such with Bluetooth markers, which communicate with a cellphone. When the wearer moves a given distance from the items, warning lights on the collar will blink.
With products such as these, computing will become ever more integrated into our everyday lives. As Tech grad student Daniel Ashbrook predicts: "There will come a day when we'll have cellphones in all our clothing —- or, more likely, something we can't imagine."
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