NYU Grad Students Design High-Tech Sweatshirts That Gauge Air Pollution Levels

by Tanya Thomas on Jan 24 2011 9:27 AM

 NYU Grad Students Design High-Tech Sweatshirts That Gauge Air Pollution Levels
With the creation of two NYU graduates, you may soon be wearing clothes that automatically inform you of environment pollution levels. Their high-tech sweatshirts are designed to change colour when exposed to air contamination.
Nien Lam and Sue Ngo created the sweatshirt, which is emblazoned with pink lungs that suddenly show blue veins when exposed to dirty air, during 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," the New York Daily News quoted Lam, 32, who lives on the upper West Side, as saying.

Ngo, 27, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn added: "We wanted to bring up that visualization, bring the inside out. 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 micro-controller 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 colour dramatically when heated, blue veins become visible when the sensor finds toxins in the air.

The duo hope to find a way to cheaply mass produce the shirts, which use about 60 dollars worth of material, and they are also experimenting with other kinds of sensors, including a booze detector.

"If you were drinking alcohol, the sensor would pick up the fumes and change the colour of the liver," Ngo stated.