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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Think I'll Wear my Blue Computer Today

This is conductive cotton making a simple circuit. (Credit: Cornell)
I have just discarded my old Tshirt and put on another, pre-purchased at a recent sale.  Not an uncommon occurrence.  In the future though, my simple cotton garment promises to be replaced by something quite special.

T Shirt computers will be coming to a store near you in the foreseeable future.  Material scientists from Cornell University’s Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory have managed to create transistors and electrical circuits from cotton yarn by coating the threads with gold nanoparticles, and then a conductive polymer.

According to an article in ExtremeTech two kinds of transistor were created: a field-effect transistor (FET), much like the transistors found in your computer’s CPU; and an electrochemical transistor, which is similar but capable of switching at lower voltages, and thus better suited for wearable computers.

But engineer David Forbes is not waiting for this science to mature and has already created a LED television you are able to wear as a shirt.  There are a few unfortunate implications of doing so including raising the hackles of airport authorities in Detroit last year when he entered with 160 circuit boards and a mass of other electronics strapped to his body.

David Forbes's TV vest contains 14,400 green, red, and blue LEDs that together make 4,667 pixels.
Steven Meckler
Forbes managed to convince the airport security that he wasn’t a threat by offering to show them The Simpsons on the coat. Bart to the rescue again!

His first effort at wearable television weighted an uncomfortable 50 pounds but his latest version, funded by a small homemade watch business he runs on the side, is far less cumbersome.
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