Hi-tech ‘geek chic’ to hit the streets

The world’s first commercially available electronic clothing is set to go on sale in high street shops across Europe.

Clothes equipped with fully integrated computer networks have been designed and developed in a joint venture between Levi’s, who are best known for their denim wear, and electronics company Philips.

The launch follows three years of intensive research.

The clothes, destined to become the essential fashion of the future, enable the wearer to be connected to the world wide web at any given time.

Such innovations come at a price, though.

Jackets equipped with a mobile phone, a portable audio device, a remote control panel, a microphone and headphones, will cost in the region of £600.

The clothing was first previewed this year at the Brave New Unwired World Fashion Technology Show in London and experts predict that ‘geek chic’ may lead to further technological advances

Philippa Wagner, of Philips Design, said clothing was currently being developed which could be used to monitor people’s health, with the fabric itself acting as the electricity conductor.

This could include maternity wear which could detect a foetus’ heartbeat or garments which could wire elderly people directly to their GP.

Professor Kevin Warwick, of Reading University’s department of cybernetics believes that there may come a time when verbal communication becomes a thing of the past.

He said: ‘Having information on you as a person may mean when you are walking around or shopping you don’t need credit cards. ‘Where we are going in the future is looking at the possibility of communicating in a whole new way – upgrading humans, communicating in terms of thought signals.’

He went on to express concern that the technology, whilst exciting, could possibly lead to a loss in people’s privacy.

Inevitably, though, there are practical draw backs for wearers of the new jacket. Network crashes and heavy precipitation are just two of the potential problems that lay ahead.