2011 October 10

A recent show at Imperial College, London offered vanishing dresses (using a blend of polymers that dissolve when exposed to H2O), hoodies that actually clean the air as you walk through it, thus leaving the street cleaner than when you found it, and special underwear that makes you fitter.

Within five years we may see full-body compression underwear that allows even ordinary gym goers to run faster, lift more and punch more strongly. Also on the cards is a sports bra that shapes itself to the wearer, and most interestingly to many women, ‘clever’ undies that use the body’s own heat to generate tiny electrical pulses that activate the muscles so that you become slimmer the more you wear the garment. This technology could also be used in socks to help frequent flyers and those who stand all day, by returning blood to the upper parts of the body, thus reducing the risk of clots, thrombosis and varicose veins.

Photo-catalytic clothing is already being tested. It involves cotton clothing treated with a chemical layer that reacts with light to break up water in the air and create radical molecules that neutralise pollution – fitted into the jogging bottoms of running groups or the jackets of street workers this layer could actually make our cities cleaner and safer at no cost to us.

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