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Cornell team building heart-monitoring, bug-fighting smart clothes

Using nanotechnology, smart clothing promises to monitor users vital signs, keep them warm and fend off pollution

October 17, 2013 03:25 PM ET

Computerworld - Your shirt could soon power a smartphone while monitoring your blood pressure and providing alerts about harmful bacteria nearby.

It's not a scene from a sci-fi movie, as researchers at Cornell University today are using nanotechnology to build such smart clothes.

Members of the research team met with fashion industry leaders in Manhattan's Garment District earlier this month to discuss the technology they want and need.

"The fashion industry needs an outlet to provide feedback on the technology they are looking for, to test new ideas and materials, and to determine what research they are willing to fund," said Tom Nastos, chair of the Cornell Institute of Fashion and Fiber Innovation.

"When you put the researchers together with people in industry, it's a great combination - not just for the clothing of today, but for looking to the future," Nastos added.

Cornell scientists are using nanotechnology to make different types of smart clothing, including bike shirts with motion-detecting turn signals, a jacket that heats and lights up with it's cold and dark and sensors that can monitor activity levels and fend off viruses and pollutants.

With advances in nanotechnology, and the continued miniaturization of electronic devices, the use of smart clothes isn't that far off, according to Cornell.

Smart clothing are part of an emerging group of wearable technologies in development.

Smartwatch technology has started making it to consumers, while about 8,000 people are using prototypes of Google's computerized eyeglasses, called Google Glass.

The Google Glass eyeglasses promise to offer users the ability to view maps, search results, weather forecasts and breaking news on a transparent lens that sits just above the user's right eye.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter@sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.



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