Gone are the days when your shirt could only communicate to you by popping a button if you’ve been eating too many late-night snacks while you do Netflix binges. Science today is helping to innovate fashion by making our clothes as smart as they are comfortable and attractive.

Imagine a future where firefighters or police wore uniforms that notified dispatchers if there is a problem. Or, a sweater that captured static electricity not to shock you, but to recharge your smartphone. That’s what technology offers us today. Some of it’s still on the drawing board, but more of it is making its way into the clothes you’ll soon be able to buy.

Smart Fabrics

Google and Levi’s got together to show us how this might play out. It looks like a regular denim jacket, but the Levi’s x Jacquard by Google has technology woven into the fabric. You pair it with your smartphone, and sensors in the jacket allow you to control basic functions with a brush to the jacket’s cuff.

Stanford University recently created a substance called NanoPE that is being readied to create fabrics which will allow us to help radiate our body heat. There current plans by athletic apparel manufacturers to use NanoPE to create workout clothes that help us stay cool even when we’re taking a hot yoga class.

Multitasking Clothes

We like to think we’re capable of multitasking, but science has shown that all we really end up doing is several things with less precision. It’s a better idea to leave the concept of multitasking to technology – and that includes the new smart fabrics that are being made ready for our clothes.

The most important thing they’ll do is help us to monitor ourselves and our surroundings. Besides helping us to regulate our body temperature, manufacturers are working on athletic clothes that help us control muscle vibration and even work to decrease wind resistance.

Our next generation of clothes made with smart fabrics will also help to protect us from environmental hazards. You may, for example, see an indiscrete patch on your shirt that will change colors to let you know it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to protect you from ultraviolet light. Medical researchers are working on fabrics that can help to release drugs into the skin where our clothes come in contact.

The fashion industry has its eye on smart fabric, too – and purely for aesthetic reasons. What’s there to do if you show up at a party and there’s someone wearing the same outfit? The solution could be as easy as opening an app on your smartphone and telling it to change the color of your dress.

It’s already common to see LED lighting embedded into shoes. The process can be miniaturized and applied to fabric, so these light emitting diodes are actually embedded into the fibers. The possibilities are endless, ranging from turning shirts into electronic billboards, to offering more safety for pedestrians at night.

Laundering Your Smart Fabric

Smartphones and washing machines don’t mix. It’s likely that most people wouldn’t buy garments made of smart fabric if they couldn’t easily keep them clean. That’s one of the biggest challenges for manufacturers. It’s also why you should consider checking with your neighborhood drycleaner when you purchase a garment infused with any sort of new technology.

It’s their job to stay up with the latest trends and innovations. We’ll keep your smart fabric clean, which also will help to keep it working right. Wayzata Home Laundry and Dry Cleaners features monthly special offers. Sign up to save!