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Ask her to dance, but leave if her dress starts to blink

BioPhotonics
Mar 2010
Lynn Savage, lynn.savage@photonics.com

Ostensibly designed as a means to open discussions of global warming at cocktail parties, the Climate Dress may provide even more important, more immediate value.

Made by Diffus, a design studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the garment incorporates a soft conductive thread that permits the sewing of embroiderylike features. Scattered throughout the embroidery are more than 100 LEDs that pulse with a soft glow at regular intervals.

If the embedded lights begin to blink quickly, even frantically, however, then you might be in trouble. Activating the light display is a microcontroller connected to a CO2 sensor hidden in the dress-wearer’s hairdo!

Both data and power run through the threads of the dress – no other wiring or components are required to operate the dress. The hidden sensor constantly scans the air for CO2 levels and feeds the data to a 2-in. microprocessor made specifically for wearable fabrics.

Through the light display, the dress announces changes in ambient CO2 levels. If worn at an outdoor event, it might simply spark conversations about rising (or lowering) pollution levels, and what that means for global health and security. If worn during an indoor soirée, it might show that there were too many people doing too much heavy breathing.

Diffus was aided in the design and completion of the outfit by embroidery company Forster Rohner AG of St. Gallen, Switzerland; the Alexandra Institute in Katrinebjerg, Denmark; and the Danish School of Design, also in Copenhagen.

According to Diffus, the industrialization of soft-circuit production is a milestone that will open up new possibilities for working with intelligent textiles. Future outfits could include health monitoring capability, for example, or could receive wireless signals from environmental sensors placed wherever one might walk.


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