UPDATED November 9, 2004 There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come, and the response to this article has made it the most popular article on the site this week. Similarly, regardless of the trade show at which NYX illuminated clothing is shown, it becomes the talking point of show attendees and the catalyst for vivid imaginations as they seek to project what might happen with this technology over the next few years.
Los Angeles based Nyx clothing is launching a range of customised jackets with built-in flexible display screens that connect to a Palm OS PDA or smartphone such as the Treo or Kyocera, and can display the message of your choice on your clothes. The message and display is more than just a passive single message - the words can be scrolled, messages rotated and NYX also has a microphone-based sound-to-light feature that enables the clothing to synch its light and message pulsing with the beat of the music. Add some imagination to those capabilities and you could create an entirely new form of dancing and entertainment.
Nyx's John Bell told Gizmag, "Nyx was the Greek Goddess of the Night who gave the world daylight through the birth of her daughter. Because we deal with lights, we thought the name appropriate."
The illuminated jackets run on three NiMH rechargeable AA batteries and last for 8 hours (Duracells last for twice that long). The current jacket has a 16x16 pixel display screen on the front (7.5cm x 7.5cm) and a 16x32 pixel display screen on the back (15cm x 31cm). The upper limit for wearable displays currently set in software is 100,000 of the larger panels, enough to cover a football field and all the people in the stands.
The flexible display technology can be used in all types of clothing and Bell is already manufacturing items with small displays such as armbands. The more you think, the more opportunity and application there is for this type of technology in a practical sense: scrolling news tickers, sports tickers, weather, fashion, gossip - the Nyx jackets have massive potential. We've covered some of the social applications previously with the interesting Korean PIX concept.
The company has completed product development of the illuminated jackets and is currently offering prototypes to clients for around US $900, with the price expected to drop to US $250 once manufacturing begins and the jacket is in general public release early in 2005. The next generation of Nyx jackets will focus on mobile phone interfaces (palm and non palm based) as well as Pocket PC PDAs and PCs.
The jacket is also Internet ready, so the tools are there to create clothing with information broadcast capabilities, perhaps for teachers controlling children in a public environment, road crossing attendants outside schools, for security people, for messaging to emergency service workers, i.e., police, fire, ambulance etc., indeed anywhere where groups of people in the near vicinity need instructions or information.
Nyx CEO John Bell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.