Sunday February 11, 2018
10:55 PM GMT+8

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WASHINGTON, Feb 11 — Just the swipe of your arm is all you need to open this door — no key, no ID badge needed.

This is possible with smart fabric — magnetised thread weaved into clothing.

University of Washington students are developing this proof of concept technology where data is stored in clothing thread.

Justin Chan from University of Washington’s Ubicomp Lab said, “The idea behind data storage for magnetic fabric is that we’re turning it into a kind of hard disk that can store information using north and south poles, the way that a regular hard disk stores information. So you can take a north and south pole and magnetize different portions of the fabric.”

The red north pole and the blue south pole magnets act as a code — much like the ones and zeros a computer uses. When applied to different parts of the fabric, magnetometers can read the code and interpret commands.

A researcher scans a piece of smart fabric with a magnetometer. — Reuters picA researcher scans a piece of smart fabric with a magnetometer. — Reuters pic“For example, if you were a doctor and you had to wear scrubs or you were a hotel employee and had to wear a uniform, you can actually embed a special code into your uniform and scan it against the door and it will allow you to enter,” said Chan.

Smart fabric technology can be sewn into belts, ties and other clothing items. While not yet fashionable, it can withstand a good wash and iron.

“We actually subjected them to a machine wash test, a drying test and an ironing test and we read the bits back each time. As it turns out the bits remained intact on all those pieces of fabric every time, and this basically shows that our mechanism is highly durable,” he added.

As smart fabric develops, it will open the door to the amount and other types of data that can be stored inside your shirt sleeve. — Reuters

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