Although we haven’t yet figured out how to make a real invisibility cloak, we are coming up with better ways to camouflage ourselves. And what better way to do that than taking a cue from nature? The chameleon can change the color of its skin, so wouldn’t it be cool if we could to? Textile designer Judit Eszter Karpati may have found a way to do that, thanks to the use of an experimental fabric she created that changes color on the fly.
Remember those t-shirts in the 1980’s that changed color with your body temperature? Those shirts used a conductive dye. Karpati’s material, Chromosonic, also uses conductive dye, but the rest of the color-changing process is much more high-tech: nichrome wires are woven into the fabric and connected to an Arduino microcontroller, which is connected to a power supply. When the wires heat up in response to sound, the temperature changes, affecting the dye and making the fabric change color and pattern.
With this research project, Karpati intended to explore how textile arts and digital could combine and interact. She said on her Vimeo page:
“The project investigates the relationship between digital world and textile arts, the ever-changing boundaries between the digital and physical world. How the world of digital media becomes tangible through the textile medium. My intention was broadening the field of textile craft and design, bringing together different mediums and looking for new possibilities in textile design. The project mixed different areas: textile design, electronics and IT.”
In essence, this fabric acts as a sort of sensory camouflage, and can react to sound in its environment. We can only imagine what this could become if taken farther: if we could truly incorporate a fabric that can change based on other sensory input, like sight and smell, we could develop something that makes us completely blend in with our surroundings.