The Connection Between Fashion and Electrical Engineering

Making a connection between high-fashion and the world of electrical engineering could be considered a bit of stretch. That is until some pioneering work that recently came out of The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). KAIST was able to show that it can make something that was once just a futuristic pipe dream: wearable clothes with screen display technology.

The concept of technology and fashion isn’t a particularly new idea although it’s only now come to fruition because fabrics are tricky to mix with electricity, so most discussions on such concepts were considered only theoretical.

Professor Kyung Cheol Choi and his team put that to rest. Using integrated organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), they created what is considered the most flexible (and therefore wearable) light technology on the planet. In order to create this innovative technology, they considered both fiber and fabric-based illumination. Although they’ve been practicing for years with little advancement, this year, they focused their attention on the emerging field of OLEDs, and came back with some of high levels of success.

Mr. Choi put it well in the team’s press release: “screens displayed on our daily clothing is no longer a future technology. Light-emitting clothes will have considerable influence on not only the e-textile industry but also the automobile and healthcare industries.”

It’s important to point out that the team at KAIST did not design any market-ready wearable screen-based fashion: they merely provided proof of concept. Where the fashion industry, and technology giants, take this potential technology is anyone’s guess. But with OLEDs becoming cheaper, and clearly more versatile in their usability, it can be interpreted that a whole new fashion may be coming in the near future.
In order to expand on this concept, teams of engineers and designers will have to follow the standards used in research like KAIST’s very closely. Even small lapses in detail can make a cutting edge LED based t-shirt into just another t-shirt.

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