Warning Signs – smart shirt points out pollution

Carbon monoxide is part of cigarette and cigar smoke as well as car exhausts highly concentrated on road sides is the silent killer of our time. These gases are invisible and work over time to kill.

Sue Ngo and Nien Lam, two former students at NYU Tisch School of the Arts came up with a brilliant, visually powerful design to remind one self and the polluters how harmful their behavior is.

Their interactive fashion project called ‘Warning Signs‘ uses color changing, Thermochromic fabric with muscle wire integrated to heat up a vein pattern on the lung or heart organ shapes on the sweatshirt.

A carbon monoxide sensor inside the sweater picks up the pollution level and depending on the concentration of the carbon monoxide in the atmosphere around the wearer, the veins will light up more intense as the pollution level increases.

The ‘Warning Signs’ project reminds me to a similar smoking visualization project a few years ago made by Fiona Carswell called the ‘Smoking Jacket’ which featured a pair of lungs at the front and the wearer exhales the cigarette smoke into a pocket in the jacket containing lung image behind a transparent foil. Over time the exhaled smoke will change the lung image visualizing the harmful effect of second hand smoking.

Back to the future, the ‘Warning Signs’ sweater from Sue Ngo and Nien Lam gives a much faster, instant visualization of the environmental degradation caused by carbon monoxide but a range of other sensors sniffing for different harmful gases could be added to show in a playful yet very meaningful way how our environment is attacking us all day.

warning signs from Susan Ngo on Vimeo.

After watching this video clip I might think twice before taking a stroll along a busy road – but …. that’s exactly the point of this design, creating the awareness of what is going on around us.


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