Advances in technology can be seen everywhere and the pace in the development and improvement of products can seem almost immediate in this technology hungry age. It will therefore be of little surprise to learn that technology is now even making it into the clothes that we wear.
cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Pro-Zak
This type of technological advancement is intriguing as many of us don’t usually associate our clothes with technology. However, there are some current clothing products on the market that are already using new innovative technology either in the clothes design or directly in the clothes materials to make our lives more comfortable, let’s take a look at what clothing technology is currently out there…
Omni-Freeze Zero Clothing Technology
Columbia the active sportswear retailer who are renowned for innovative clothing products has recently launched their new “Omni-Freeze Zero” technology that aims to cool you down when you are hot and sweaty during exercise.
The technology which took four-years to develop embeds special cooling polymers within unique blue rings that feature throughout the clothing. Once you become hot, your sweat is designed to cause a mechanical reaction to expand the rings and this expansion caused by the rings picking up your body heat creates a cooling sensation and therefore cools you down.
Compression Level Clothing Technology
Another company called SKINS has uniquely looked at compression levels within its clothing to ensure increased oxygen delivery to muscles while they are under use. The company worked with a scientific and industrial research organisation to understand the effects on different muscles during exercise. They specifically looked to deduce where oxygen delivery was most important to reduce lactic acid build-up when exercising. Through this knowledge they developed a warp knit fabric that was designed to allow enhanced circulation when someone exercised therefore ensuring the muscles in the body got vital oxygen when working and under stress.
Air-Conditioning and Heating Clothes Technology
A company called ClimaWare have designed a range of clothing that aims to keep your body temperature comfortable whatever the temperature. This type of clothing uses actual technology within the clothing so you can select whether you want your clothing to become a personal air conditioning unit or a warm heater. The clothing is designed using thermoelectric material that is located on body parts where body temperature can be efficiently regulated. Behind this type of clothing technology is the idea of the Peltier Effect. This effect is when electricity flows through two connected metals – one will get cooled while the other one heated up. The ClimaWare clothing is specifically designed to have touch spots that touch areas of the body where blood vessels are dense because these are the best place to control body temperature.
These advances in clothing technology and specifically the ClimaWare technology appear to have a connection to nanotechnology. Nanotechnology and especially nano-textiles is a science that looks at how fibres at an atomic and molecular level can be manipulated – and in this case it is being used to improve the clothes. This improvement in clothing no only looks at how clothes can cool you down and warm you up but can look at enhancing other clothing areas such as water-resistance and odour reduction ability.
Work is already underway by clothing manufacturers into developments on a fabric called Aerogel which is also known as “frozen smoke”. This fabric has been used by NASA for many years in the insulation of space suits and is the lightest solid material known to man. The aim of many clothes designers is to use this material to make a jacket that is as thin as a t-shirt but will keep you warm whatever the temperature – even when you experience freezing conditions.
When you look into it, the pace of technological advances in the clothing industry is astonishing and it is also interesting to note that developments are not always based on new technology but also enhancing existing material. Formation clothing technology is just one example where different fabrics are being looked to be combined to enhance the performance of athletes. The aim of the clothing is to compress fabrics in such a way that they will sculpt to an athlete’s movement as well as regulating their body temperature while performing.
It is amazing to think that we could start choosing our clothes based on the weather condition or the type of sporting activity we were doing. In the past we have been limited by the amount of clothes we can wear and the type, such as shorts on a hot day rather than trousers; but in the future we could have clothes that minimises perspiration and cools us down automatically through the material by sensing our body’s temperature.
All these advancements make you wonder what clothing will be designed in the future. Rumour has it that some clothing manufacturers are already developing clothes that can help prevent sunburn, absorb harmful UV rays and also repel mosquitoes in humid weather conditions. The future of clothing technology really is fascinating.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Marie Flanders has a background in electrical engineering. She works for Fluke United Kingdom and specialises in Electrical and Temperature control devices and infrared thermometers. She enjoys blogging about electronics and its advancements in the modern world.