Coming Soon to Your Closet: Clever Clothes

Building on research conducted at the University of California-Davis, a Seattle firm is developing cotton textiles that are treated with an antimicrobial compound that purportedly kills pathogens and viruses, and even wipes out odor-causing bacteria.

Meanwhile, researchers at Binghamton University in New York say they have developed a process that uses ink to conduct electricity, so circuits can be printed on fabric as easily as a newspaper prints yesterday's news. The beauty of this project is the possibility of having clothes that can heat, or cool, the wearer just by flipping a switch.

Of course, some of the research in this area is pretty far out. A number of folks are hoping to create fabrics coated with silicon nanowires. That could make it possible for clothing to offer an optical display, like a sunny beach scene in the dead of winter.

A more practical application is data presentation on the surface of a contact lens, perhaps reminding the wearer not to yammer on the cell phone while driving the car.

Still others are trying to incorporate sensors in clothes that will generate electricity based on the movements of the wearer, thus charging the cell phone, or the other electronic gizmos that we can't get along without these days.

All this may be a bit mind boggling, considering that just a short time ago all we really needed was basic black.

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