Photo-Sensitive Threads Turn Clothing Into Cameras

A new fiber optic-laced thread opens the door for large, flexible cameras made of cloth

Camera Thread

Those gray spots are light sensing semiconductorsYoel Fink, Fabien Sorin, via Technology Review

There was a time when a camera was its own thing. Now my phone's a camera, my computer's a camera, and it looks like pretty soon my pants could be a camera too. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a thread with bundles of photo-sensitive fiber optic cables inside. The cables transmit light back to a computer, effectively turning each thread into a camera.

Each threads contain eight fiber optic sensors, arranged in two layers. The inner layer allows the computer to calculate the color of the light, while the outer layer records the placement of the light. Together, the information recorded by the two layers produces a color image.

So far, the researchers haven't come up with any specific applications for the new material, although they speculated that it could be used to create everything from combat uniforms that record when a soldier sustains a wound to flexible telescopes to chemical sensing clothing. And of course, who knows what might happen once Alexander McQueen gets a hold of this stuff.