An international group of researchers is working on a way to mass produce a technology that could lead to clothes that display video or change colour by pressing a button.

The Modecom consortium, led by the University of Bath in Bath, England, has embarked on a three-year, $1.7-million US project that hopes to find a way to efficiently produce durable organic light emitting devices (OLEDs).

The thin, flexible polymers are currently used as low-power displays in some cellphones and digital music and video players but are not reliable enough to be used for larger displays such as full-sized televisions or computer monitors.

OLEDs, which can turn electricity into light, or light into electricity, could also be used to create product packaging that displays moving images or information, windows that can be tinted electronically and emit light more efficiently than conventional or energy-saving bulbs, or as lightweight solar power sources.

"This is a long-term project, and the contributions of many scientists are needed for its success," co-ordinator Alison Walker of the University of Bath's physics department said in a written statement.

The Modecom team's membership includes 13 groups from nine universities and two companies. Three groups are from the U.K., six from the U.S., and one each from China, Belgium, Italy and Denmark.

The European Union is funding the European and Chinese partners.