The Future of T-Shirts

Lately it is seems that technology in t-shirts is advancing past the traditional screen print.  Below are a few different examples of new custom t-shirt technology showing where to future of t-shirts may be headed.

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll has hidden camera and LCD T-shirt Display

Mattel’s latest Barbie doll not only has a hidden camera, it will also display any snaps taken with it on her LCD display-sporting T-shirt.

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll is fitted with a 0.3-megapixel camera embedded in the back of Barbie’s necklace. The camera is controlled via the doll’s belt buckle and, with 4MB of on-board memory, Mattel says up to 200 photos can be stored on the toy at any one time.

If a snap-happy version of the world’s most famous doll wasn’t enough to get girls up and down the country scribbling on their Christmas wish list, here’s the really cool part: any photos taken with the camera can be displayed on Barbie’s T-shirt.

While it seems like this is only a toy now, on a larger scale people could post picture to their own shirts one day.

Self-Cleaning T-Shirt

Chemical engineers in China announced they have developed a cotton fabric that cleans and deodorizes itself, only requiring sunlight to activate.

Researchers Mingce Long and Deyong Wu have developed the fabric using titanium dioxide(TiO2),  a common dye used in a variety of products, including paint, sunscreen, makeup and milk. Its self-cleaning properties have already been applied to household cleaning products, such as self-cleaning tile sprays.

Titanium dioxide’s photocatalytic properties have been known since the 1960’s and is actually one of the 50 most-used naturally occurring chemicals in the world. but Long and Wu’s new fabric is unique because it can be activated with sunlight as opposed to only ultraviolet light. More from the sci-fi site  Io9:

Simply put, Long and Wu’s fabric is more versatile. For decades, TiO2 was only known to exhibit photocatalytic properties in the presence of ultraviolet light. But recently, it was shown that spiking TiO2 with nitrogen ions gives it photocatalytic capabilities in UV lightand visible light. By coating their fabric with nano particles made from this new N-TiO2, the researchers have created a fabric that self-cleans in the presence of a very broad spectrum of light. What’s more, they found that further dispersing additional silver iodide nanoparticles in the fabric accelerated the N-TiO2‘s stain-fighting properties.

And if the sunlight doesn’t remove the stain off your shirt, you can reportedly still wash your clothes with soap and water without diluting the nanoparticle coating.

Internet-connected LED T-shirt lets you flash the world

T-shirts have long been used to express opinions, assert individuality, and spread messages. The tshirtOS prototype is trying to become the first commercially available programmable, Internet-connected digital T-shirt.

The shirt is a joint venture between high-tech fashion company CuteCircuit and Scotch whisky maker Ballantine’s. I’m not entirely sure what a high-tech T-shirt has to do with a venerable Scottish alcoholic beverage, but I’m sure there’s a marketing tie-in here somewhere.

The shirt features an integrated LED display, microphone, speaker, and accelerometer. To avoid strapping a big computing device onto your torso to run the gadget, the shirt is controlled via smartphone, which also enables the Internet connection.

This approach opens up endless possibilities for what you could broadcast on a shirt. Tweets? No problem. Animated cats? Sure. Facebook status updates? Of course. NASA Mohawk Guy photos? Yes, please!

CuteCircuit is currently gauging interest in the T-shirt. If enough people are willing to buy in, there’s a chance the shirt could hit the market for real.

Stab Proof Shirt! 

Stab-resistant shirt

If you’re going to wear knife-resistant clothes around town, you may as well look sharp doing it (sorry, no more bad puns for the whole rest of this blog). Nihon Uni, a Japanese uniform manufacturer, has created a T-shirt that promises to provide at least some stab protection.

The cloth is made of a polyethylene fiber that’s allegedly equal to aramid fiber used in body armor,according to the Daily Yomiuri. But if the picture to the left is any indication, the shirt’s not as sci-fi/armor-ey looking as one might expect. Plus, it’s machine-washable.

Nihon Uni, based in Osaka, reportedly came out with the garment in response to a rash of violent crimes against schoolchildren and convenience store clerks. The T-shirt promises to provide superior protection from slashing attacks, but its mesh fabric can be punctured by a sharp point.

The shirt will go on sale in June, with the short-sleeve version starting at about $190 and a long-sleeve T going for $220 and up. Just pair it with abulletproof backpack, and you should be about ready to hit the mean city streets.

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