Connected Clothing: machine to machine to human interaction
Thursday, 13 September 2012
From the silver jumpsuits of the early sci-fi movies to the rather revealing jacket of Zhora in Blade Runner, when it came to represent the “clothes of the future”, movies have always focused on the style rather than functionality. Interestingly, present M2M technology is part of what we call Connected Clothing.
A few months ago, many media picked up a story of connected baby pajamas. The apparel monitors a range of biometric data, like skin temperature, movement and heart rate and can transmit alerts to a computer or a smartphone, keeping parents update on their child status at all time.
Exmovere’s pajamas are not the only ingenuity infants can benefit from. Startup 24eight has developed smart diapers embedded with a cellular chip that automatically sends a "diaper wet" notification via text message to the parent’s cellphone.
Among the products of 24eight, there’s also SmartSlippers, a pair of slippers designed for the elderly, with an accelerometer installed in the sole that detects unstable stances such as the ones caused by dizziness or loss of balance. If this happens, the slipper alerts a family member or a physician to prevent damage.
For the younger, sports apparel multinational Nike has developed a pair of fitness shoes that can measure many parameters of workouts and send the data to a smartphone app. The feedback includes very precise and understandable data, like how many times a basketball player has jumped during a game.
But not everything is focused on lifestyle and health. Safety for dangerous professions is one of the areas where connected clothing is starting to show potential.
In February 2012, during Mobile World Congress, Telefónica presented @textil project, a smart fire-fighter suit equipped with sensors that measure exposition to dangerous gasses and flammable liquids.
Similar projects are being developed in order to increase the worker’s safety. For instance, a Zigbee-based coal miner smart helmet that analyzes temperature, the presence of methane gas and humidity.
Whether it is healthcare, safety-oriented or even just a fashion complement, M2M technology is jumping from the cities, the cars and the buildings to our apparel, connecting the machines with us. It will be interesting how companies develop this interaction in the future.