By DAVID KITTREDGE
About a dozen years ago, as I stepped out of my car into the parking lot of a local grocery store, I could hear muffled screaming. Alarmed, I looked around the parking lot for the source of the hysterics and saw a lone man sitting in his car with the windows rolled up, looking downward, bellowing at the top of his lungs at no one in particular. I thought, someone’s having themselves a bad day, and turned to walk into the store. I then realized that the man was using a smart phone with the speakerphone function employed. We are entering a “rave” new world, especially for someone like myself who remembers using a rotary phone where you stuck your finger into the dial and spun it to choose the individual numerals of the phone number you wanted to call and being somewhat discouraged if the phone number had a lot of zeros and nines in it because it would take four or five seconds for the antique phone to register each of the higher digits.
With today’s smartphones we have applications that can be downloaded onto the mobile device and paired by Bluetooth, wirelessly, to an article of clothing made with E-textiles or electronic fabric that contain electronic elements such as sensors or maybe LEDs. Engineers have designed self-powered clothing that can control your electronic devices. According to the researchers, “the waterproof, antibacterial and breathable material is based on omniphobic, triboelectic and fluoridated molecules to embed tiny electronic components that turn clothing into a remote control for electronic devices.” This all sounds very itchy to me, whether antibacterial elements are embedded into the fabric or not. I can see it now, you are cruising down the road in your self-navigating car while wearing your smart garment made from E-textile that is paired with the computer in the vehicle and you decide to scratch an itch on the torso area of your electronically abled sweatshirt and whammo, your vehicle receives a bad navigation command by accident and your Bluetooth enabled car pairs wirelessly with a roadside tree.
Smart fabrics are being embroidered into clothing that link with smartphones to enable users to take selfies, play music or monitor their health by simply waving an arm or touching the fabric with your finger. I can envision a smart garment that would be paired with a lie detector app that would trigger the sleeve of a garment to lift up and cause the users hand to slap their own cheek whenever they told a lie. It would be very handy and entertaining if political candidates were mandated to wear E-textile shirts or blouses paired with a lie detector, during a debate and, whenever they made a statement like, “When I get to Washington I am going to work for you!” and if by chance they are telling a baldfaced lie, SMACK, their arm would automatically react to slap their hand against their face. We could then choose the candidate with the least self-pummeled countenance. This would make things so much easier on us, the electorate.
Smart shorts are now available, presumably for women only, which electronically take body measurements to help them find a pair of dungarees with the perfect fit. I would imagine that they are not planning to buy their blue jeans in Walmart, as I do. These smart shorts will probably go a long way in stopping marital spats, though. Many a husband has been has been ambushed with the dreaded, age old, question, “Do these jeans (in this instance) make me look fat?” as the wife sashays in front of the television screen broadcasting a sporting event in a pair of jeans that she has forcibly willed herself into because they were designed for a teenage supermodel. As his mind frantically rummages through a host of replies, he then diplomatically states, “No, they look nice on you.” But meanwhile, he has briefly forgotten that he is wearing an E-textile garment that is paired not only with a sports score app, but also with the aforementioned lie detector app as he cuffs himself up beside the coconut because of his little white lie. The hubby then hopes that the Mrs. doesn’t realize the cause of his strange behavior.
Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor of Purdue University recently stated, “Having an interface with a machine that we are constantly wearing sounds like the most convenient approach for a seamless communication with machines and the Internet of Things.” This” Internet of Things” idea involves computing devices embedded in everyday objects (like clothing), enabling them to send and receive data over the Internet. I am starting to break out into a rash right now, physically and mentally, just thinking about this. This fellow is saying that we could be connected wirelessly to the internet all day long while wearing smart garments and if our jammies are constructed of smart fabrics, all night long too. Good grief! Charlie Brown. It looks like communing with nature has flown the coop.