When used in clothing, Otherlab’s new textile detects changes in the temperature and inflates or deflates accordingly, eliminating the need for multiple layers.
Finding ways to do more with the same (or less) is a common approach in most industries and frequently have a sustainability objective underpinning the approach. In the clothing business, wearables like this eco-friendly personal cooling unit could provide relief for millions of people toiling in extreme heat conditions. In healthcare, retrofitting defibrillators with software that predicts heart failure before it occurs could save many lives and by extension, time and money of emergency services.
Intelligent design company Otherlab’s new textile takes another step in reducing waste and cost by producing heating and cooling abilities directly into the fibers of clothing. Using layered sheets of frequently used materials such as nylon and polyester, an Otherlab shirt traps more warmth when the external temperature drops and then reduces its thermal capability when the air heats up. By mixing fibers with different thermal expansion features, air pockets are created when the materials react in separate ways to the surrounding weather.
When tested for use in textiles, the new material had such a significant impact on the wearer’s level of comfort and overall temperature that the team behind the design believes widespread adaptation of it could notably reduce peoples’ reliance on heating and cooling systems. And by reducing the need for multiple layers of clothing, the new material could help lessen waste in the fashion industry by encouraging consumption of quality over quantity. How else could smart clothing help reduce general resource use and increase sustainability?