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Electronic fabrics create chameleon clothes

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In a high-tech fashion breakthrough, researchers from Concordia University in Canada have developed interactive electronic fabric that generates power from the human body, stores it and uses it to change the look of clothing.

Wearable technology making its way into fashion isn't new, but how this tech interacts with the fabric is.

"The major innovation of this research project is the ability to embed these electronic or computer functions within the fiber itself: rather than being attached to the textile, the electronic components are woven into these new composite fibres," said Joanna Berzowska, a professor at Concordia University, who developed the fabric in collaboration with École Polytechnique’s Maksim Skorobogatiy, in a press release. "The fibres consist of multiple layers of polymers, which, when stretched and drawn out to a small diameter, begin to interact with each other."

So how close are we to seeing this type of high-tech chameleon clothing on retail shelves? It might be a while. Berzowska built a prototype of what the clothing might look like but currently it's not possible to manufacture clothes with the new fibers.

"We won’t see such garments in stores for another 20 or 30 years, but the practical and creative possibilities are exciting,” said Berzowska. "Imagine a dress that changes shape and colour on its own, or a shirt that can capture the energy from human movement and use it to charge an iPhone."

Photo: Ronald Borshan via Concordia University

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— By on April 17, 2013, 9:00 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure