In an effort to unburden soldiers in the field, researchers at Ohio State University are developing communication antennas that can be embedded into clothing and controlled by a separate computer device. The antennas are embroidered into the garments with metallic thread.
While the prototype vest is intended to give soldiers four times the range and a much lighter load than the portable communications set-ups they currently use, the university researchers are looking to take the remote-controlled technology into the civilian world. John Volakis, the laboratory director for the project, noted this would be an apt way to provide communications assistance for the elderly and disabled (thereby letting them circumvent carrying more visible devices). He also pointed out, however, that these particular antennas could be incorporated into a “fancy ball gown,” since beyond being inconspicuous, they’re even attractive. And — how convenient! — early tests show the technology works well when sewn into taffeta. Maybe it’ll wind up being the most stylish way to leave your cell phone at home during your next Met gala, prom, wedding, etc.