New technology adds dynamic messages to t-shirts

Posted on September 13, 2006

And I thought Hypercolor shirts were high-tech.

Philips Research recently touted its new and improved production-ready Lumalive textile garments at the Berlin IFA consumer electronic trade fair. This essentially means that in the near future, you will start seeing people walking around with logos lit up, flashing and/or moving right across an ordinary t-shirt, jacket or sofa.

Just so you follow, let's start from the beginning.

According to the press release on Phillips' website, the company displayed this technology at last year's fair. But researchers have made such great strides that in Berlin, visitors had the opportunity to checkout an assortment of Lumalive fabrics (which can be seen here and various locations on YouTube).

The fabrics feature flexible arrays of colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are fully integrated into the fabric. This is created without compromising the softness or flexibility of the cloth. That makes it possible to create materials that can carry dynamic messages, graphics or multicolored surfaces.

Of course, the ideas for using Lumalive are endless. Just about anything that is made of fabric could be transformed instantly into a "living" billboard. While it would appear on the surface that this would be a big seller, I suspect that a flashing light on a shirt you are wearing would get old rather quickly. Also, it will be interesting to see what the price tags will be on the articles of clothing produced.

Even still, it's a step up from the apparel that changed colors based on temperature: Hypercolor clothing. Unfortunately, my orange Hypercolor shirt is pretty much white now, from too many trips through the dryer. With Lumalive, there's something you take out of the clothing before washing it. Although if you left it in, you'd probably receive a pretty good light show during the spin cycle.