Cool tech to dress you for the heat

Cool tech to dress you for the heat
A fashion show held at Biopolis showcased a dress (left) with silkworm cocoons that can glow naturally under ultra-violet light and an outfit (right) with fibre-like materials to help keep the wearer cool in hot weather, or warm in cold environments.

A Home-Grown technology could make walking in sweltering outdoor temperatures and working in chilly offices a more comfortable experience.

It involves powder- and fibre-like materials which can be used in clothes.

They can be about as thick as a strand of hair or thinner.

These can keep a person cool in warm weather by absorbing body heat and dispersing it.

When the person is in a cold environment, the materials, which are said to be thrice as good as existing products in conducting heat, are able to do the reverse.

The technology was one of several showcased by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) yesterday at its Next-to-the-Skin exhibition at Biopolis, in Buona Vista.

Exploit Technologies - the technology commercialisation arm of A*Star - put up the exhibition to go alongside the two-day Startup Asia conference, which ended yesterday.

The conference organised by Tech In Asia, a tech news site, showcased technology start-ups and their products.

By holding its exhibition next to the conference, Exploit hoped to interest companies in A*Star's prototypes and investors in commercialising them.

Ms Radiana Soh, Exploit's assistant vice-president, said the prototypes were developed within a month earlier this year after A*Star scientists met private companies and investors.

The four researchers, led by Dr Shah Kwok Wei, a scientist from A*Star's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, behind the cooling materials are now working with a United States company to incorporate them into hospital beds.

Other possible applications include using the materials in firemen's uniforms, sports attire and hiding soldiers from snipers that track targets using heat signature.

Other prototypes that were exhibited included a pillow that uses optic fibre sensors to monitor sleep patterns.

Similar technology embedded in baby swaddles will also be able to monitor the vital signs of newborns. These products can warn caregivers if something is wrong.

A fashion show of outfits designed by Nanyang Technological University students from the School of Art, Design and Media, and which incorporated some of A*Star's technologies, including the cooling materials, was also held yesterday evening at Biopolis.

This article was published on May 9 in The Straits Times.

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