Sports & Fitness | Tech

Developing Fabric Technology And Futuristic Smart Clothes

Nike Sphere Thermal

At one time, out of necessity and limited options, humans wrapped themselves in dead animal furs and skins to keep warm—and for some reason many still do—but thankfully technology is constantly pushing forward with advanced fabrics and designs that will allow us to shed our outdated garments and slip into some high tech gear.

Companies like Nike and Speedo are spending millions of dollars every year on research and development that is changing our expectations of clothing. Nike’s Sphere technology (which is based on a 3-D tech fabric with an architectural weave) keeps your body ultra-cool by evaporating sweat quicker, or warm by holding air within the garment without making it weigh a tonne: it works with your body’s natural thermostat to create its own atmo-“sphere.” Carrie Davis, the Director of Innovation at Nike says, “There’s no wiring, no electronics, but there’s a lot of technology in there.”

Speedo Fastskin Swimsuit smart clothes

Speedo’s high tech Fastskin swimsuit is based on the hydrodynamic properties of sharkskin: its tiny grooves reduces drag and supports your muscle groups to reduce fatigue (30 out of 33 Olympic gold medals in swimming at the 2000 Sydney Olympics went to athletes wearing Speedo swimwear). And their Endurance line apparently lasts at least twenty times longer than conventional nylon swimwear making it ideal for regular use—so it will still look great by the end of summer since it’s not supposed to degrade in chlorinated or salt water.

But if you’re not into sports, there is clothing for the wired. SCOTTeVEST has designed a jacket with 16 pockets to hold your cell, Palm Pilot, mp3 player, and any other gadgets you have, while hiding wires so they don’t get in your way. Starlab, a Belgian research company, is designing clothes with electronics that will alert you if you forget your car keys or if someone is trying to lift your wallet. And then there’s Microsoft that commissioned the development of a jacket with a fully-functional computer stitched on the back—instead of just wearing a JLo t-shirt you could be the ultimate fan and play her videos on your back.

Does it sound like things are getting carried away? Or is this just the beginning of a new way of shopping for clothes: “Hi. Does this come in navy? And what can it do for me?”

Clothing will no longer be just about style and expression, but about features.

So what would be the ultimate in clothing? Carrie Davis of Nike says, “Regardless of what you were doing, it just adapted to everything. The ultimate though, would be to never have to wash it.”

Quest International is working on it: their fragrance technology bonds micro-balls of scents to fabric, so your clothes always smell fresh and sweet.**

Written by Faze’s James Chung

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