Pollution-Detecting T-Shirt Warns of High Carbon Monoxide Levels

by , 04/16/11   filed under: Wearable Technology

eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, green fashion, smart fashion, smart clothing, wearable technology, pollution, Nien Lam, Sue Ngo, New York University

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it’s colorless, odorless, tasteless, and extremely dangerous. Take it from someone who has experienced the symptoms of carbon-monoxide poisoning; it’s a frightening experience. “Warning Signs,” a high-tech T-shirt that visualizes ambient pollution, is a wearable alarm you can take with you. Designed by Nien Lam and Sue Ngo, two graduate students from New York University, the shirt features a heart or pair of lungs. Pink at first, the faux-organs flash blue veins when sensors detect above-average levels of carbon monoxide, whether it’s from traffic, smokers, or a faulty heating system at home.


Lam and Ngo wanted to send a message about the ills of air pollution that anyone would understand. “Air pollution is kind of one of these things that’s all around us,” Lam says. “You don’t see it but it exists and it’s invisible and we wanted to bring that to light.”

Each shirt comprises conductive thread and heat-sensitive fabric, which changes color when a sensor triggers an electric current.

Each shirt consists of conductive thread and temperature-sensitive thermochromic fabric, which changes color when an electronic sensor triggers warming electrical currents. The marked contrast from pink to blue has even caught some smokers by surprise during the duo’s test runs.

Lam and Ngo are hoping to create a shirt that detects the level of alcohol you’re consuming. They plan to use a similar system of microcontrollers to tell you (and, more likely, those around you) how drunk you are. The visual cue? Appropriately, a liver.

+ Warning Signs

[Via PSFK]

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