Lowering the body’s core temperature has been shown to decrease the likelihood of neurological damage in the event of oxygen deprivation. In a process known as “therapeutic hypothermia,” hospital medical staff will routinely administer chilled water blankets or insert cold drip catheters, in order to protect patients who have just experienced a cardiac arrest or stroke. What can be done, however, when someone has a heart attack far from a hospital? Well, in the near future, bystanders may be able to suit them up with a cooling vest – possibly saving them from permanent brain injury.
Clothes have done much more than serve as protection from the weather for tens of thousands of years. Over the last few millennia they've been worn as statements of rank and fashion, adapted for countless specialised uses from military combat to surfing and bee-keeping, cut and tailored in every conceivable shape, colour, size and fabric, and become signposts for entire cultures.
Along the way clothing manufacture has embraced and developed many new innovations, and it seems a natural progression for micro-electronics and other emerging 21st century technologies to find their way into our wardrobes next to the zip-off tracksuit pants and the Moon-boots. The result: clothes are getting smarter.Smart clothing will both enhance its primary role as body covering and extend its functionality to keep us connected, entertained, relaxed, safe and healthy. Fabrics and designs with built in temperature control mechanisms will merge with invisible add-ons like mobile phones and MP3 players, sophisticated medical monitoring systems integrated into shirts will save lives and clothes may even provide us with our daily vitamin supplement.