Staying smart

Researchers from the University of South Australia have been developing a smart solution for managing your wardrobe.

The system, built by academics from UniSA’s Wearable Computer Laboratory, can tell you what you wore last, where you wore it, what accessories you wore with it, and more.

While admitting that they were not the first to think of using technology this way, Prof Thomas, the Director of the Wearable Computer Laboratory, points out that his researchers are the first to develop ‘smart garment-management technology’ that works.

‘Our system comprises a computerised wardrobe with electronic hangers and garments embedded with tiny electronics that enable wireless monitoring and data downloads,’ Prof Thomas said.

‘The smart wardrobe has a touch screen on the outside and conductive metal bands spanning the hanging rail inside, with wires connecting it to a computer in the base of the wardrobe. When electronic hangers, each with their own ID and metal connection, are placed on the rail, the metal band in the rail detects the hangers and their smart garments, which incorporate conductive material and integrated electronics,’ he said.

‘Through this connection the computer identifies, for example, that hanger 123 has suit 45 on it, and monitors where and when it has been worn, and even how many times it has been worn since it was last washed or dry-cleaned,’ Prof Thomas said.

Computer and information science PhD student Aaron Toney has also developed an alert function that tells smart wardrobe users when garments need to be dry-cleaned.

‘The average suit should be cleaned after between eight and 12 wearings but people often lose track of when their clothes were last dry-cleaned and how often they have been worn since then,’ Toney said. ‘Our wardrobe monitor can record garment usage, as well as deliveries to and pickups from drycleaners.’

‘The system can also help people make the most of mixing their wardrobe. It can be connected to an autonomous fashion butler on the internet, which can suggest clothing choices for casual or formal outings with accessories to match,’ Toney said.

The research into the system was undertaken by Toney and final year computer systems engineering student Wynand Marais, under the supervision of Prof Thomas.