Pushing Textiles Forward through technology-
A team at the University of Washington has developed magnetic clothing, including a shirt cuff that can open doors and a glove that can control a smart phone with gestures, without the use of electronics. Shyam Gollakota, Associate Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, is the senior author of a paper that was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery's User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST 2017) on October 25th, 2017 describing how data or numbers and letters can be stored in apparel using magnetized, conductive threads.
Commercially available conductive yarns previously used in garments such as those developed by Google and Levis in their project Jacquard denim Trucker Jacket, required electronic devices and storage in a button, which could be damaged by rain or by accidentally washing without removing. These same type yarns sewn into a shirt cuff using common sewing machines, can be magnetized by rubbing a magnet against the fabric, assigning different areas of the textile to be north or south. These north and south areas correspond to binary 1's and 0's that enable storage of up to 33 million(1) different codes that are then read by an array of magnetometers(2) to open hotel doors or control a cell phone. Magnetometers are not expensive and detect the orientation and strength of magnetic fields. The University of Washington team also developed a glove with a magnetized patch on the finger that can operate a cell phone with gestures interpreted by the magnetometer already embedded in some smart phones. Six gestures have been proven to be 90%(3) accurate in operating a smart phone without taking it out of your pocket, including actions such as pausing or playing music. The gestures include left flick, right flick, upward swipe, downward swipe, click and back click. The magnetized textiles are impervious to clothes machine washing, ironing and drying, The magnetic fields do however, weaken over time at a rate of about 30% in one week(4), and are useful for temporary passcodes like hotel door locks.
1. "Wearable Data," by Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, Vol. 318, Issue 2, Jan., 2018, pg. 20; DOI 10.1038/scientificamerican0218-20
2. "How to Store your information in your clothes invisibly, without electronics," Jennifer Langston, Washington.edu, 10/31/17
3. "How to Store your information in your clothes invisibly, without electronics," Jennifer Langston, Washington.edu, 10/31/17
4. "Wearable Data," by Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, Vol. 318, Issue 2, Jan., 2018, pg. 20; DOI 10.1038/scientificamerican0218-20