Clothes that change color in response to pollution

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Thanks to the Library of Congress for this photo.
  • Thanks to the Library of Congress for this photo.

No kidding. A couple of grad students from New York University have designed some T-shirts with lungs and hearts — like the organ, not the cutesy symbol of love — that change colors when they're near pollution. So, for example, if you're wearing one of the shirts and you smoke a cigarette, blue veins will appear.

Here's more from the New York Daily News:

Nien Lam and Sue Ngo came up with the idea for a class on wearable technologies in the interactive telecommunications program at Tisch School of the Arts.

"The organs in your body are invisible to you, just like pollution and the other silent killers out there," said Lam, 32, who lives on the upper West Side.

"We wanted to bring up that visualization, bring the inside out," added Ngo, 27, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn. "This is a stark reminder for yourself and others around you."

A dime-sized carbon monoxide sensor attached to the sweatshirt detects pollution from cars, factories, and even second-hand smoke.

It sits on a microcontroller programmed to send electrical currents through the shirt, warming wires that run under the lungs - or on some shirts, a heart.

Because the organs are made of thermochromic fabric that changes color dramatically when heated, blue veins become visible when the sensor finds toxins in the air.

"They went for something that's at once subtle and quite in your face," said designer Despina Papadopoulos, who co-taught the class. "It was a perfect project. It's a conversation starter."

Read the rest of this article, by Barry Paddock, here.

Now, who's brave enough to wear these shirts this summer in Charlotte, the city the American Lung Association deems the 10th worst in the nation for air pollution?

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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