Trend-setters offered robotic clothes

CNN News

November 22, 2000

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Fashionable folk who simply must have
the latest designer labels can now don the smartest gear of
all: "Intelligent clothing."

For scientists have stitched up jackets, shirts and trousers
with mobile phones and even mini-computers for a
walkie-talkie wardrobe.

The trend-setting clothes will tell the wearer when he or
she has forgotten the house keys, sound an alarm when a
wallet or purse is stolen and even play music to accompany
one's mood.

The hi-tech range also includes a track-suit which urges
joggers and other keen sports fans to greater efforts.

Walter Van De Velde, head of the Brussels-based research
group, Starlab, which produced the clothes after five years
work, said : "(The tracksuit) monitors you starting to run.
It configures data on your heartbeat.

"It plays a certain type of music and adapts the rhythm of
the music to push you harder or slow you down."

Van De Velde added: "The mobile phone function in the
clothing sends the data by e-mail to your sports club, which
receives the report on your training by the time you've
taken your shower."

But intelligent clothing is not all work and no play, it can
also enjoy a holiday.

"I like the idea of clothing as memory, which accumulates
part of the impression of the place you are staying, say, on
holiday. It would record the freshness of the air, the
background noise, it would take snapshots like a tourist,"
said Van De Velde.

He even suggests "sound perfume" -- heat sensors which would
pick up the wearer's mood, detecting panic or embarrassment,
and play music via small speakers to match it.

"The sound of the wind blowing could represent turbulence,"
Van De Velde suggested. "As you relax it becomes gentler."

Founded by Van De Velde two years ago, Starlab has so far
received funding from the U.S. space agency NASA, national
governments and the European Commission.

Van De Velde left Brussels University (VUB) where he was
co-director of the artificial intelligence unit, to help
establish the new firm.

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