If your idea of advanced textiles is SmartWool and CoolMax, prepare to be dazzled. The photogenic experimental textiles featured in Azure promise clothing that does much more than heat or cool efficiently.
Some of the designs are more imaginative than functional. For example, the fabric of the Philips Design Bubelle dress is embedded with sensors that respond to the wearer’s temperature, moisture, and heartbeat—and changes color accordingly. Another fanciful garment is the Hug Shirt by CuteCircuit. It uses Bluetooth technology to recreate a hugger’s temperature, heart rate, and hug pressure and relays that information to a recipient.
Other designs are more practical. For those who prefer their protective gear sleek, D3O is a useful material for mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding. Made from specially engineered molecules, the material bends and folds under normal circumstances. Upon impact, it hardens to protect the wearer. Many other garment advances have been made to meet medical challenges. Virginia Tech’s Hokie Suit monitors a person’s gait and may help those prone to falling, like the elderly and people with multiple sclerosis.