Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture

Michael Swaine’s Free “Mending Library” Repairs Clothes, Community | Ecouterre

What a great combination of art, technology, and giving back to your community:

On the 15th of every month, Michael Swaine trundles into San Francisco\’s Tenderloin district with a cart-mounted sewing machine—the old-fashioned kind, which you can only operate by means of a treadle. Setting up shop in a reclaimed alley known as the \”Tenderloin National Forest,\” as he has for the past 12 years, Swaine offers his services as a tailor, mending whatever clothing the neighborhood\’s residents bring him for free. A performance artist, an inventor, and a professor of ceramics at the California College of Arts, Swaine sees opportunities for change everywhere. His current ambition is the construction of a free \”mending library,\” a place for \”fixing the holes in our lives…to borrow thread and sewing machines and talk about life.”

more via Michael Swaine\’s Free \”Mending Library\” Repairs Clothes, Community | Ecouterre.

Posted in chemistry, electronic imaging and displays, Optics, physics

These gaze-activated dresses are the coolest thing you’ll see all day


Fashion designer Ying Gao has created a pair of dresses that light-up and writhe around when you stare directly at them.Called Nowhere and Nowhere, the dresses use an eye-tracking system to detect when a spectator is looking. A person’s gaze activates tiny motors that move parts of the dress in any number of patterns. The system can also turn off the lights and illuminate the dresses.Here’s a video of the dresses in action sorry for the click-through; embedding has been disabled.

via These gaze-activated dresses are the coolest thing you’ll see all day.

Posted in design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, Illumination

Light Up Your Life With LEDs, Sewable Circuitry | Gadget Lab |

I have just one word: pretty!

If you’ve always dreamed of colorful, glowing accoutrements, or just have some ideas for an upcoming Halloween costume, grab your soldering iron and a sewing needle: Here are a couple of products you can use to get a real 21st-century look.

Photos via  Jon Snyder/ Check out more at Light Up Your Life With LEDs, Sewable Circuitry | Gadget Lab |

Posted in biology, design and architecture

Ig Nobel awards

The 2009 Nobel, and Ig Nobel, awards have been announced. The Ig Nobels are special because they honor work that seems silly at first, but at second glance are actually very useful.

One example is this year’s Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar, who designed a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

The awards were announced October 1, at the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. On October 3, the new winners explained their work, at the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT. I loved the quote that Dr. Bodnar gave about her work that they’re not only useful, but also pretty.

Check out more winners

Posted in chemistry, design and architecture

Waterless dye

Science makes an appearance at Fashion Week this week (on Disco Blog):

This year, it’s fabric dye that’s getting the Green treatment. Coloring a pound of fabric can take up to 75 gallons of water, and a single dress or pair of pants can use up to 25 gallons.

So what if we could dye all our clothes without water? That was the idea tackled by Colorep, a California-based technology development company that created a new way to color fabric using air rather than H2O. Called AirDye, the process applies non-plastisol-based inks within garment fibers, rather than as a layer on top (which is how it’s done with water).

This Fashion Week, the AirDye system made its debut at the Costello Tagliapietra show, in which the clothes (see photo) were dyed almost entirely without water.


*Editor’s Note*:I still don’t understand why it’s fashionable to make your hair look like a rat’s nest.

Posted in chemistry, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays

Photo fabric

From BBC News:

The researchers stretch out large fibres to make thin threads

Clothes could one day take snaps of everything happening around whoever is wearing them.

US researchers have made smart fabric that can detect the wavelength and direction of light falling on it.

The research team has found a way to accurately place sensors in each fibre and co-ordinate the electrical signals they send when light falls on them.

The results were a step towards “ambient light imaging fabrics” said the researchers.

Led by Dr Yoel Fink from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the researchers have extended earlier work that placed sensors in relatively large polymer fibres.

Dr Fink and colleagues found a way to stretch the 25mm strands of polymer into much thinner fibres while maintaining the relative positions of the sensors.

This earlier work has led to the creation of very long and flexible light and temperature sensors that may find a role in smart fabrics for soldiers or those working in hostile environments.

In their latest work, described in a paper in Nano Letters, these thinner strands were woven into a 0.1m square section of fabric. The careful creation of the fibres and positioning of the light-sensitive elements meant that the team knew which signals were being sent by which sensors.

This enabled the team to reconstruct, albeit crudely, an image projected onto the small square of fabric. The researchers said their work was an “important step” towards finding ways to get many nanoscale devices working together.

Posted in biology, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, Illumination, Nanotechnology, Optics, Solar and Alternative Energy

“Smart” Fabric

First there was the Huichol women weaving fiber optics into their blankets, and now this:

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed electrically conductive, carbon nanotube-based cloth, produced by essentially washing cotton fabric in a carbon-nanotube bath. With just a few carbon nanotube threads, a piece of cloth can power an LED. And, the researchers point out, it still feels like cotton (or perhaps a cotton/synthetic blend?). They hope the cloth can eventually be used to detect airborne allergens, or where a soldier might be bleeding.

Of course there is always the question of whether these materials are safe for humans at the nano-level, so that will have to be explored before these can be found at your local Target. And my personal worry is that since humans are already electrically conductive, how likely is it to shock yourself on these shirts? Because frankly I can shock myself on anything: doorknobs, balloons, carpet, rotary phones, wool blankets…