With colour-changing fabric, Hong Kong AI lab aims to reduce clothing waste


Simple gestures could be all it takes to alter the colour of your clothes in the future, according to a research team that has developed a colour-changing textile embedded with a tiny camera and making use of artificial intelligence.

The technology could help reduce waste by giving people more colour choices for an item of clothing, says Hong Kong-based Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design (AiDLab).

The fabric, which is knitted with polymeric optical fibres (POFs) and textile-based yarns, can be illuminated in a range of different hues.

A thumbs-up in front of the fabric triggers deep blue, a heart sign will turn it pink while an 'OK' sign will turn it green.

Colours can also be customised from an app on a phone and AI algorithms help the camera distinguish the gestures of individual users.

Professor Jeanne Tan, who works at Polytechnic University's School of Fashion and Textiles and heads the research team, notes the POFs are made of polymethyl methacrylate which is recyclable and the structure of the textile enables easy separation of POFs from yarns for recycling.

The fabric is also soft.

"The hand-feel is just like any ordinary knitted fabric," she said.

AiDLab hopes that the technology will one day be commercialised. It's currently on display in installations at shopping malls and other locations in Hong Kong.

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