With smart textiles market predicted to be worth 4.72 Billion USD by 2020, we were happy to hear that there has been another exciting step in its evolution, the introduction of ChroMorphous. Developed by a team of UCF scientists from the College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida (CREOL). As one of the world’s foremost institutions for research and education in optical and photonic science and engineering, they have come up with a technology that is scalable at mass-production levels via a process known as fibre-spinning.
Introducing An Active User-controlled Colour-Changing Fabric
Nearly identical to other textiles in which each woven thread is equipped with a micro-wire and a colour-altering pigment, ChroMorphous allows the wearer to change the colour or pattern of the fabric through their smartphone. This all sounds great, but what makes this fabric different from others on the market is that it does not contain LEDs that emit light of various colours. Instead, CREOL’s ChroMorphous technology enables a never-before-seen capability: user-controlled, dynamic colour and pattern change in large woven fabrics and cut-and-sewn textile products.
“The capabilities of electronics constantly increase and we always expect more from our iPhones, so why haven’t textiles been updated?”
According to their press release, each thread woven into the fabric incorporates within it a thin metal micro-wire. An electric current flows through the micro-wires, thus slightly raising the thread’s temperature. Special pigments embedded in the thread then respond to this modification of temperature by changing its colour.
Quite impressive, ChroMorphous works using an app, which the user can access at the tap of a button on their smart device, that allows the user to choose from a variety of patterns and colours to suit their need or mood. For example, a solid purple tote bag now can gradually add blue stripes when you press a “stripe” button on your smartphone or computer or switch to a solid blue.
On their project, Dr Ayman Abouraddy, Professor of Optics & Photonics at UCF shared, “Although clothing has been a staple of the human experience for millennia, the basic structure and functionality of textile fibres and yarns have remained unchanged throughout history.” Adding, “The capabilities of electronics constantly increase and we always expect more from our iPhones, so why haven’t textiles been updated? Can we expect an ever-expanding range of functionalities from our clothing? These were the questions we asked and the foundation for creating the ChroMorphous technology that we began developing in 2016. We are excited to introduce the industry’s first colour-changing fabric, as we believe it’s the next groundbreaking innovation in fashion and textiles.”
Presently, the CREOL team is working with Hills to reduce the diameter of the threads further to produce fabrics for wide-scale market adoption. Ultimately, the patent-pending fabric can be used across a broad range of applications from clothing and accessories to furniture and fixed installations in housing and business décor.