Blog: Leonie BarrieChameleon clothing

Leonie Barrie | 6 April 2006

A new invention could make it possible to change your appearance without going near a wardrobe, with a simple flick of a switch enabling garments to mimic the patterns and colours of their surroundings. But I don’t think clothing companies have too much to fear from their customers no longer needing to buy different T-shirts to match their mood or outfits...yet. Apparently the fibres only switch from orange to blue and from red to blue, although threads that change from red, blue and green to white are said to be in the pipeline.

Nevertheless, the research into chameleonic clothing by Greg Sotzing of the University of Connecticut in Storrs has huge potential, particularly since it uses what are said to be the first long fibres with the ability to change colour.  The knittable, washable threads of electrochromic polymers change colour in response to an applied electric field, but revert to their original colour when the voltage is reversed, according to an article that will be published in this Saturday’s issue of New Scientist magazine.

By knitting or weaving the threads with a small number of thin metal wires connected to a battery pack and a microcontroller, the colour between the crisscrossing wires can be changed. And by connecting the controller to a camera, it’s possible to create patterns that match your surroundings.

New Scientist


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