Often, when I leave the house, it hits me that I haven’t given any attention to colour matching my clothes. This fashion passe could soon be a thing of the past, because a group of researchers in the US have found a way of shifting colours and displaying information on the fabrics we wear.
The technology, called Ebb, will allow us to instantly be able to change the colour of our shirt, including the logo on it too. The threads change colour in response to electricity woven into the fabric which in turn creates dynamic style textile displays. Although it is still in its early days, this development does add a whole new purpose to designing garments.
This is an exiting time for Smart textiles. Earlier this year Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a public-private partnership with the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America(AFFOA) Institute, making $317 million available to accelerate innovation, manufacturing textiles and fibres. Even in the startup space we see great how developments like Hydrophobic and even Self-cleaning textiles are paving the way for the future of fashion. It is this type of progression in funding and research that makes it that we can now look forward to new functional smart clothing being made.
In the case of colour-shifting garments, the research was conducted by Laura Devendorf and her ‘collaborators’ at California’s UC Berkeley in partnership with Google ATAP’s Project Jacquard. On her student blog she wrote: “We coated conductive threads with thermochromic pigments and explored how we could leverage the geometries of weaving and crochet to create unique aesthetic effects and power efficiencies. The thermochromic pigments change colours in slow, subtle, and even ghostly ways, and when we weave them into fabrics, they create calming “animations” that move across the threads.” Laura continued “The name “Ebb” reflects this slowness, as it conjures images of the ebb and flow of the tides rather than the rapid-fire changes we typically associate with light emitting information displays.”
Looking at the above video, we can already see the challenges that the achievements create, because the footage needs some serious speeding up to see the fabric change its colour. Nevertheless, this is a great achievement when it comes to the overall realm of Fashion merging with Technology. It might take a few years before we can all ditch the screens that represent our main interface today, but in my opinion it will be worth the wait.