Interactive Apparel: Are Those Pants, or Is That a Keyboard You're Wearing?

Tech is fast moving into fashion. You can now detect Wi-Fi with your T-shirt--and soon you may be able to signal a left turn from your bike with an LED glove.

Interactive Designs That You Can Wear (Sooner or Later)

Today, you're inseparable from your tech. Soon, you'll be wearing it. We looked across the Internet at what clever designing minds are doing with interactive wearables.

Some of these products are for sale now, while other items are coming soon (according to their creators). And some of these things are great concept designs that live exclusively with their inventors for the moment. Here are some pieces of interactive apparel that we'd love to try out (or on).

Let's start with a cool jacket intended to protect cyclists.

Sporty Supaheroe Jacket for Night Bicycling (Concept)

All too often, cyclists are in danger of being run over, especially after dark. Someday, this unusual piece of wearable technology may be able to help.

The Utope Project, a cooperation between designer Wolfgang Langeder and Stretchable Circuits/Fraunhofer IZM, created the Sporty Supaheroe concept jacket, which has a flexible display of up to 64 RGB-LEDs placed in segments on the front, back, and shoulder areas.

The jacket's lights can generate multiple colors and patterns. On top of that, the garment offers a visual link with a smartphone placed in the jacket's pocket, and the wearer can tell whether a call is coming in by the way certain lights activate.

Image: Courtesy of Ubergizmo

Keyboard Pants (Concept)

The "Beauty and the Geek" concept design by Nieuwe Heren integrates a keyboard into a pair of jeans. Note that the mouse is attached, and should reside in your pocket when not in use.

This idea might be carrying the marriage of life and tech a little too far.

Image: Courtesy of Gizmag

Click Keypad Watch

When you're wearing the Click Keypad Watch ($90), just touch a key, and the time will blink in single digits. You can set the watch on the 12-hour system or the 24-hour system. On the latter, if the time is, say, 1:12 p.m., the one, three, one, and two will blink in that order. If you want to know the date, press the pound key.

It requires a bit of thinking--but geeks like to do that, right?

OK Go LED Jackets

Since interesting interactive clothes are pretty expensive currently, they're popping up early on those who can pay: celebrities.

Moritz Waldemeyer recently designed these LED light-show jackets for geek band OK Go (famous for the treadmill video for their song "Here It Goes Again"). The Waldemeyer site says: "When the band appears on stage, LED lights embedded in their jackets run through a sequence that makes up the letters O, K, G, O--like a Vegas slot machine scrolling through its symbols to spell the band’s name."

We can't wait to show up for a concert in our own (affordable) LED jackets that give an artist feedback on what we thought of the performance!

Image: Courtesy of

Remote Control Shirt (Concept)

This is the perfect shirt for couch potatoes who don’t like to reach for the remote and would rather wear it instead.

The shirt has conductive thread that connects to soft switches to create a circuit board designed to control your TV. Rebecca Albrand created this shirt in 2010 for her junior-year project at the University of Arts in Philadelphia.

Image: Courtesy of

Rusty Hoodie With Built-In Headphones

This dual-purpose hoodie helps you look good and listen to music. HB3 and Rusty have come together to make the Wired Series of hoodies with built-in headphones. The pictured style, "Armstrong," is about $75. Rusty offers a variety of hoodies for all seasons.

T-Qualizer Chiller Equalizer Shirt

If you're at a concert, the LEDs embedded in the T-Qualizer Chiller Equalizer Shirt ($30) will rock out with you. This cotton shirt, which requires four AAA batteries, comes with equalizer bars in the form of LEDs that react differently according to noise level. The battery pack fits neatly in a small interior pocket.

Night Biking Glove (Concept)

Irene Posch says in a blog post that she designed the Early Winter Night Biking Gloves because raising visibility is important for urban bikers.

According to Posch, when the wearer forms a fist, that closes an electric circuit in the gloves, causing the LED arrow sewn onto the back to light up. The clever V-shape placement of the LEDs makes the wearer's arm and hand look like a turn signal.

A 3V coin cell battery to power the LEDs is sewn into the cuffs.

Image: Courtesy of FashioningTech

Wi-Fi Detector Shirt

If you’re always in a rush and you hate to turn on your laptop just to check for a nearby wireless network, try this T-shirt.

Made of 100 percent cotton, the Wi-Fi Detector Shirt ($20) can spot nearby networks and display the signal strength as animated glowing bars. The detector works with 802.11b or 802.11g networks, needs three AAA batteries, and can be laundered.

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