Clothes with memory
Remembering passwords is an issue we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Two researchers from the University of Washington have now found a way to make our clothes remember them for us!
While Google’s Project Jacquard and other fashion technology companies have been focusing on the development of digital, sensor-filled fabrics and garments, two Ph.D. students from the University of Washington are taking things back a notch. Rather than developing new types of fibres, or adding extra properties to yarns and fabrics, Shyam Gollakota and Justin Chan take pre-existing threads and experience with their inherent magnetic properties.
The duo’s key insight is to elaborate the magnetic properties of conductive threads and offer digital logic to mobile devices. This is achieved by manipulating the magnetic properties of fabric strips, in which they include binary codes of zeros and ones; when passing the strips through a smart devices magnetometer, the data stored within can thus be decoded. Furthermore, Gallakota and Chan have applied the magnetic patch with an identifying image code on to the sleeve of a shirt, when passing through the readers (magnetometers and a microprocessor) at the door, the sleeve emit the magnetic signal that matches the predetermined pattern… and voila! Door unlocked!
This data storage and authentication device can be applied not only onto shirts, but belts, neckties, wristbands, etc. What makes this research impressive and more accessible to a wider market is that they have used pre-existing hardware in smartphones, as well as off-the-shelf conductive threads. Gone are the days carrying ugly keycards around your neck!