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MIT Team Invents Camera Cloth

July 10, 2009

One day, clothes might be able to snap photos of everything that is happening around whoever is wearing them.

Researchers at MIT have created fabric that can detect the wavelength and direction of light falling on it.

The team, led by Dr. Yoel Fink of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found a way to place sensors in each fiber of the fabric and co-ordinate the electrical signals they send when light falls on them.

The results make a step towards “ambient light imaging fabrics,” said the researchers.

Fink and his team have extended their earlier work that placed sensors in relatively large polymer fibers.

He and his colleagues found ways to stretch the 0.9-inch strands of polymer into thinner fibers while maintaining the positions of the sensors.

This work has led to the creation of long and flexible light and temperature sensors that might play a key role in smart fabrics for soldiers, or those working in hostile environments.

In the researchers latest work, these thinner strands of fabric were woven into a 0.3 ft square section of fabric.  The creation of the fibers and positions of the light sensors meant that the team had to know which signals were being sent from what sensors.

This brought the team to constructing an image projected on a small square of fabric.  The researchers said that their work was an “important step” into the future of nanoscale devices working together.

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