This article about smart clothing, which mentions Tinson1’s boss at the project he’s on in North Carolina at the moment, appeared in the Irish Times last week. Apparently Berkeley are working to convert the energy of bending or stretching your arm into electricity. At Wake Forest University (hi, son) they have a prototype T-shirt (only available in black) which uses motion and body heat. Both of these products can power MP3 players and iPhones. Finnish company Myontec have embedded sensors into underwear, to record how hard an athlete’s legs are working. The tshirtOS incorporates an LCD screen which allows it to display tweets. The HugShirt recreates the feeling of getting a hug. The WFU shirt will monitor respiration and heart-rate, and could be used to transmit location and health status.
The materials may even be used in cars, running radios or air-conditioning using the heat and motion generated by passengers simply sitting in their seats.
Charlotte sat in front of her computer and, as she did every day, checked on her dad. She checked his location, and he was at home. She sighed. It used to annoy her if she found he was in the pub, where he and his cronies powered the neon “Guinness” sign outside simply by the number of times they raised and lowered their pint glasses. These days, though, she nearly preferred it.
When he was at home he was within the clutches of his next-door neighbour, Lillian.
Ever since the widowed Lillian, a peroxide bombshell of blonde bosomry in a tight-fitting black t-shirt, had moved in next door, Dad had become like a schoolboy hitting puberty, with a heart-rate that was off the scale. Over time he had thrown away his Hug Shirt (which Charlotte had to admit she had always found slightly creepy anyway) and they had become an item.
One time she had tracked their location to a well-known snogging spot on the hill above the town, where the heat and motion generated by the two of them in their car had shorted out the radio and blown the convertible roof into the next field.
Today, however, all seemed calm and she started to relax. Then suddenly she sat up in horror.
The heat in his underwear had soared to extraordinary levels, and the pants themselves had begun to gyrate.
Then his respiration and heart-rate stopped.
Clearly Lillian had, er, motioned him to death.
Charlotte raced up the road to her Dad’s house, running so fast that her iPod suddenly turned on, blared out three lines of Parklife by Blur, then burst into flames, scorching her left nipple. Gasping from exertion and pain, she hammered on the door, yelling “let me in, you cow!”.
The door opened. Her dad stood there.
“Hi, honey,” he said. “You ok? You look like a women’s libber who forgot to take her bra off before burning it.”
“Very funny,” growled Charlotte, pushing past him into the house. “What on earth’s been going on in your underpants?”
“A question that you’ll find features in surprisingly few daughter-father conversations,” said her Dad, “but since you ask, nothing. They’re in the washing machine.”
Charlotte stared at the machine, which was now on spin cycle. Her Dad’s underpants were revolving faster than a wheel powered by a motorised hamster. “But your vital signs stopped,” she said. Then she noticed he was wearing a normal shirt.
Her dad pointed to his smart t-shirt, draped over a chair. “I took it off,” he said. “I’m just going to cut the grass, and the last time I did that wearing the magic shirt (he always called it that, he knew it annoyed her) I mowed straight through the hedge into next door.”
“Which is how we met,” said a voice, and Lillian appeared in the doorway, coming from the direction of the bathroom. Charlotte knew that the bedroom was in that direction too, but was trying not to think about that.
Today Lillian was wearing her LED-screen-shirt, which Charlotte thought made her look ridiculous, like a teletubby with boobs, but as her Dad looked at Lillian Charlotte noticed that his own shirt, three feet away from him, started to glow softly, and the waste disposal turned on.
Lillian noticed it too. She looked straight at Charlotte, smiled sweetly, and across her chest appeared the tweet “@charlotte: he’s mine now, buzz off ”.