Who of us today remember the new futuristic story “Things to Come” (1936) directed by William Cameron Menzies, displaying “social and political forces and possibilities”?
Well, we can at least recall “A Space Odyssey”, which is an epic science-fiction story first told in 1968 and in 2001 produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick .
In 2017, when the sequel of “Blade Runner”, originally directed by Ridley Scott in 1982, reached the general public as “Blade Runner 2049”, the film has once again proved its iconic status of an unquenchable inspiration source for the fashion industry .
The film future with all its unimaginable designs and devices might already have caught up us today. A research team at the University of Washington has developed a new type of smart fabric, which can store data — from security codes to identification tags — without needing any on-board electronics or sensors. The data can be read by means of magnetometer, an inexpensive instrument that measures the direction and strength of magnetic fields. The communication occurs through navigation apps activated by an instrument the magnetometer which is already embedded in existing smartphones.
The fabric is completely electronic-free what means you can iron it, put it in the washer and dryer. The invention has a data storage similar to a hard disk with the difference that the storage takes place on the clothes you’re wearing.
However, the strength of the magnetic signal weakens by about 30 percent over the course of a week, though the fabric has to be re-magnetized and re-programmed multiple times. A saved data can also be retained after machine washing, drying and ironing at temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius.
The UW researchers have also created fashion accessories like a tie, belt, necklace and wristband and decoded the data by swiping a smartphone across them.
Future research is focused on developing custom textiles that generate stronger magnetic fields and are capable of storing a higher density of data.
Thus, we might be entering a new era of smart fashion where the costumes, we till now only have seen in those futuristic movies and the runway, can become a part of our daily style.
By using smartphones, credit cards, and other intelligent devices we constantly leave behind us lots of digital footprints, which are recorded thousands of times every day and stored somewhere in the Cloud. All the data is collected by private actors or public institutions. It creates an asymmetrical world, where just a few companies and public institutions know a lot about us, while we know little about them.
Would in such a case the new smart fabric and products made of it make our lives easier or would it bring an aspect of laziness fettering our brains and depriving us the obligatoriness to think in certain situations, knowing that we are constantly observed and thinking that we would get a signal if something goes wrong? Maybe it can make us even smarter taking the human brain to the next level of its evolution? Are we in the current Anthropocene epoch moving towards an age of great progress or building up a cyborg society?