These smart clothes can unlock your front door

Magnetic smart material stitched into clothing is the future

Smarthomes and all their gadgets are lovely but without easier ways to control said gadgets, what’s the point? Enter smart clothing that can do things like unlock doors.

The big brains over at the University of Washington has come up with a new use for conductive thread. It turns out the material isn’t just conductive but can also be magnetised meaning it can store data, just like a hard drive. The conductive fabric can have codes stored in it to unlock doors or even, potentially, make payments.

Since the fabric is weaved into the clothes it is also built to last. You will be able to wash and dry the smart clothes the same as you would any other clothing (up to 320 degrees fahrenheit), all without losing the magnetic data stored in them.

While door codes stitched into a sleeve to easily unlock doors is a cool idea the researchers did more. They also weaved the conductive thread into a glove and found that it was recognised by a smartphone. This made it possible to interact with the phone while locked away in a pocket or bag - a great way to skip tracks while listening to music without unlocking the phone, for example.

The next step is to create new textiles with even stronger magnetic fields so they can store even more data. Who knows, flash drives could soon be a thing of the past, replaced by smart clothing.

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Luke Edwards

Luke is a former freelance writer for T3 with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others Luke wrote about health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. In his free time, Luke used to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.