Smart Costumes: Smart Textiles and Wearable Technology in Pervasive Computing Environments

Lynsey Calder (MACS/TEX) Ruth Aylett (MACS) Sandy Louchart (MACS) Sara Robertson (TEX) Changhai Wang (EPS)

We explore the interfaces and interaction between smart textiles and smart – or pervasive – environments. Computing is now moving from the desktop to be embedded in offices, corridors, homes, streets. The keyboard will necessarily lose its dominance and new interaction approaches will have to be established. Smart textiles represent truly wearable computing and a basis for wholly new interaction modalities.

We focus this work initially on Performance-based – rather than on everyday  – interaction, as a time-limited non-task-related environment in which interaction can be studied in a purer form. We target dancers within a pervasively-enhanced Performance environment, and will explore the integration of colour-change technology (thermochromics and photochromics) and electronics within a smart costume to create interaction and communication. Chromic dye systems and fluorescent dye systems will be used to create multiple colour-change signals that switch between non-emissive and emissive displays. The interactive space will be enhanced with embedded computing technology: sensors and microprocessors and these effects will be explored alongside integrated electronic systems supported by specific expertise in electronic engineering.


  • A prototype dance costume that is enabled to respond to signals from the dance environment and to the actions of other dancers.
  • A completely new interaction modality for pervasive computing environments.
  • New forms of performance.
  • New forms of digital storytelling and pervasive games
  • Novel application of thermochromics and polychromics
  • New embedded and flexible electronics and sensors for non-conventional applications in the creative and entertainment industries and markets.