Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Technology

Lumalive textiles: Next big thing in wearable electronics?

Last Updated Nov. 2, 2006

A sofa using Philips' Lumalive textile technology displays the time, while a mannequin in the background sports a jacket with a Lumalive design stitched into it.

When German fashion designer Anke Loh was looking for something completely different for her "dressing light" project this fall, she came across something that changed her whole perspective.

"I was working with optical fibres to put into the clothing line, but then discovered on the web the concept of photo textiles," says the assistant professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Her exploration led her to the doors of the Philips research labs in the Netherlands. And the result of that meeting was the world's first fashion show incorporating Lumalive, a breakthrough textile technology from Philips that could just be the next "thing" in wearable electronics. Each garment in Loh's high-tech collection featured panels of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that wowed the crowd with moving displays of text and graphics.

With Lumalive, we could very well be heading into a brave new world of sofas that send personal greetings, flirtatious T-shirts that light up when a friend comes near, and jackets that receive text messages. It's certainly taking wearable electronics to an entirely new, and highly entertaining, level.

Wearable electronics is a product category that tech fans have come to know and love. It's the world that brought us iPods, wireless headsets, heart monitors, flashing runners for tots and teens, and anything else that has an electronics component to it and is worn on the body and embedded in fabrics.

But this product category is not all about fun and fashion. Wearable electronics are also invaluable in safety applications. LED alarms or GPS locators, for example, can now be integrated into clothing, belts, helmets, or even dog collars to enable search and rescue operations.

Researchers around the world have been investing considerable time and resources in the art and science of integrating electronics into clothing. A book entitled Wearable Electronics and Photonics offers a collection articles by international specialists on clothing concepts being developed in this area. These range from integrated key pads for mobile phones and connections for personal music systems built into coats, to specialty clothing for monitoring vital life signs in newborns, among others.

So where does a product like Lumalive enter the picture and why is it different?

Wearable electronics have reached a major turning point with the recent breakthroughs in LED technology, according to Bas Zeper, managing director of photonic textiles at Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, where Lumalive was developed.

"The idea of integrating electronics into textiles is certainly not new," he explains. "What is new is the movement that has been made in the LED domain. In reaching a square millimetre or less in size, they can now actually be the fabric."

Lumalive has the look and feel of a flexible, lightweight fabric panel. It can be worn or attached under the surface of a garment and turned on to create a moving panel of glowing shapes and colours on shirts, jackets, backpacks, upholstery or curtains.

The niftiest part of all is that the technology is completely programmable. The electronics and battery component can be connected to a PC to download images and applications, creating unique materials that carry dynamic messages, graphics, full-colour animation or even text messages. Drapes, cushions, sofa coverings, jackets or shirts can be programmed to "come alive" to showcase a product, to deliver corporate messaging or simply to say hello.

External Link

Lumalive video on YouTube:

As Loh says: "It's really up to the designers what they want to integrate. You can change the context of the images using a USB stick."

She adds that unlike other light-up textiles where the panels are thick and stiff, "This is so thin I could even use it under silk and you can't even feel it."

The idea of programmable textiles like Lumalive opens up the doors to all sorts of possibilities says Zeper.

"Clothing or furniture can interact and communicate ideas in a number of ways. The fabric can be programmed to light up if someone comes close or adjust to different lighting levels. You can receive text messages on your clothing. Or you can add your own name or messages as a means of self expression."

Philip's prototype Lumalive sofa for example, was programmed to greet people at an electronics trade show who walked within one metre.

Loh herself tried out the sofa personally. "It was quite convincing. It's a really open idea for different design areas."

"Businesses in promotion or safety will likely be the first adopters," says Zeper, who estimates that the world will start seeing Lumalive applications in the third quarter of 2007.

"Of course, we are working on moving it forward to more markets."

"At the end of day, we believe that making more people smile is a good thing for this world," Zeper says.

Go to the Top

Menu

Main page

Technology

Green machines
Disk drive: Companies struggle with surge in demand for storage
Open season: Will court decision spur Linux adoption?
Analogue TV
Video games: Holiday season
Video games: Going pro
Guitar Hero
Parents' guide to cheap software
Working online
Laptop computers for students
Technology offers charities new ways to attract donations
The invisible middleman of the game industry
Data mining
Two against one
The days of the single-core desktop chip are numbered
Home offices
Cyber crime: Identity crisis in cyberspace
Yellow Pages - paper or web?
Robotics features
iPhone FAQ
Business follows youth to new online world
A question of authority
Our increasing reliance on Wikipedia changes the pursuit of knowledge
Photo printers
Rare earths
Widgets and gadgets
Surround Sound
Microsoft's Shadowrun game
Dell's move to embrace retail
The Facebook generation: Changing the meaning of privacy
Digital cameras
Are cellphones and the internet rewiring our brains?
Intel's new chips
Apple faces security threat with iPhone
Industrial revolution
Web developers set to stake claim on computer desktop with new tools
Digital photography
Traditional film is still in the picture
HD Video
Affordable new cameras take high-definition mainstream
GPS: Where are we?
Quantum computing
What it is, how it works and the promise it holds
Playing the digital-video game
Microsoft's forthcoming Xbox 360 Elite console points to entertainment push
Online crime
Botnets: The end of the web as we know it?
Is Canada losing fight against online thieves?
Malware evolution
Money now the driving force behind internet threats: experts
Adopting Ubuntu
Linux switch can be painless, free
Sci-fi projections
Systems create images on glass, in thin air
Power play
Young people shaping cellphone landscape
Digital cameras
Cellphone number portability
Barriers to change
Desktop to internet
Future of online software unclear: experts
Complaining about complaints systems
Canadian schools
Multimedia meets multi-literacy age
Console showdown
Comparing Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 networks
Social connections
Online networking: What's your niche?
Virtual family dinners
Crackdown
Xbox 360 console game
Vista and digital rights
Child safety
Perils and progress in fight against online child abuse
Biometric ID
Moving to a Mac
Supply & demand
Why Canada misses out on big gadget launches
Windows Vista
Computers designed for digital lifestyle
Windows Vista
What's in the new consumer versions
Cutting the cord
Powering up without wires
GPS and privacy
Digital deluge
RFID
Consumer Electronics Show
Working online
Web Boom 2.0 (Part II)
GPS surveillance
Hits and misses: Best and worst consumer technologies of 2006
Mars Rovers
Voice over IP
Web Boom 2.0
Technology gift pitfalls to avoid
Classroom Ethics
Rise of the cybercheat
Private Eyes
Are videophones turning us into Big Brother?
Windows Vista
Cyber Security
Video games: Canadian connections to the console war
Satellite radio
Portable media
Video games
Plasma and LCD
Video screens get bigger, better, cheaper
Video games:
New hardware heats up console battle
High-tech kitchens
Microsoft-Novell deal
Lumalive textiles
Music to go
Alternate reality
Women and gadgets
High-tech realtors
The itv promise
Student laptops
Family ties
End of Windows 98
Bumptop
Browser wars
Exploding laptop
The pirate bay
Stupid mac tricks
Keeping the net neutral
PS3 and WII at E3
Sex on the net
Calendars, online and on paper
Google, ipod and more
Viral video
Unlocking the USB key
Free your ipod
In search of
Xbox
Sony and the rootkit
Internet summit
Electronic surveillance
[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Canada »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Politics »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Health »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Technology & Science »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Money »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Consumer Life »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive] 302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »