As sensor technology has become more powerful and ubiquitous, there have been a number of applications designed to make life more sustainable. For instance, I wrote last year about a new kind of milk bottle that is designed to tell us when the milk is no longer safe to drink.
A team from Birmingham City University are attempting to do a similar thing for the unused items in our wardrobe. They have developed what they’re calling the Internet of Clothes, with garments fitted with RFID tags that are capable of doing a number of things.
For instance, they are aware of the weather, so can recommend to us that they be worn on a particular day. If these suggestions are ignored often enough, the garments get in touch with local clothing charities and suggest that they might be suitable for recycling.
These organizations have then agreed to send out an envelope to the owner's address to make it as easy as possible for them to donate their seemingly unwanted items to charity.
The project aims to make fashion more sustainable and comes at a time when we own roughly four times as many clothes as we did just 20 years ago, while only wearing around 20% of them on a regular basis.
“The connected wardrobe is a practical, engaging concept to encourage people to think about their clothing consumption. Ultimately, I hope it will encourage more ethical fashion consumption,” the team say.
The project is up for the Network for Innovations in Culture and Creativity in Europe (N.I.C.E) Award, which is organised by the European Centre for Creative Economy (ECCE), which if successful, will help to develop a prototype of the product and potentially see an open source wardrobe rolled out.
The team believes that sensors in clothing is still at a very early stage, and has the potential to be used in all manner of ways. For instance, they could provide a ‘style matching’ service whereby garments recommend accompanying pieces that go well with each other.
It could even make it easier for shoppers to know the providence of the garment, including the country it was made in and the amount the employees in the factory were paid.
“As well as ensuring unused clothes go to charity, the Internet of Clothes could also automate the options for selling our own clothes, meaning unloved items are automatically posted to eBay, ASOS Marketplace or Depop, for example,” they say.