Fashion AndTechnology Now

The fashion industry today is growing at par with the technology industry and has learnt to embrace the changes instead of falling behind. With product and process innovations and advancement of smart fabrics, fashion is seeing a lot more than just some new colours and designs. Let’s take a look at the biggest innovations today:

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  1. Wearable technology

Smart watches, Fitbits and other trackers were just the beginning of this trend. Wearable technology has extended to clothing that changes its very nature depending on the environment that the wearer is in and the situation they need to tackle. Just imagine only one piece of fashion clothing that changed its colour and texture depending on light, heat and sound conditions surrounding you.


  1. 3D printing

Imagine having an object that could physically print out everything you wanted – a new pair of shoes, a unique design you saw by a designer you could not afford, a pretty dress for a summer day out at the beach or even a handbag you’ve been eyeing at the local store for days. 3D printing will become a $3.1 billion industry by the end of the year and grow to $5.2 billion by 2020. (Forbes). This innovation means that every John and Jane Doe now has the power to create their own products with no middlemen to hamper the process.


  1. Use of metadata

Every action you take on the internet leaves its footprint in some manner or the other – from signing up for a newsletter to just visiting a page.  This makes it very easy for a company to gather data about you as a user and the volume of data, with regard to the size of the market, is immense. Knowing how to use this data to leverage sales and create new strategies that are more profitable are what will differentiate players in the fashion industry.


  1. Digital trial methods

From abof’s 3D trial rooms to alteration services and more, the need for returns and refunds will slowly become a thing of the past. Digital buyers have the option of visualising how clothing will look on them before they buy it and request alterations and exchanges before being in possession of the physical product. This reduces the cost of returns, shipping, etc. for companies and puts buyer satisfaction at the top of the charts.


  1. The future of technology

The processing power of computers has doubled almost every 18 months since their invention and shows no signs of slowing down. With needle points of information that make it easier for an entrepreneur to understand the fashion needs of the customer, technology will transform the way the industries grow and interact with one and other. The winners of this will be the ones who are able to embrace this change and grow with it.

New Smart Chip Can Wirelessly Transmit Brain Signals

Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a smart chip that can be paired with neural implants for efficient wireless transmission of brain signals to help combat Parkinson’s disease or allow paraplegic people to move their prosthetic limbs.

New Smart Chip Can Wirelessly Transmit Brain Signals

Neural implants need to be connected by wires to an external device outside the body. For a prosthetic patient, the neural implant is connected to a computer that decodes the brain signals so the artificial limb can move.

These external wires are not only cumbersome but the permanent openings which allow the wires into the brain increases the risk of infections.

The new chip by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) scientists can allow the transmission of brain data wirelessly and with high accuracy.

Assistant Professor Arindam Basu from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said the research team have tested the chip on data recorded from animal models, which showed that it could decode the brain’s signal to the hand and fingers with 95 percent accuracy.

“It is about a hundred times more efficient than current processing chips on the market. It will lead to more compact medical wearable devices, such as portable ECG monitoring devices and neural implants, since we no longer need large batteries to power them,” said Basu.

To achieve high accuracy in decoding brain signals, implants require thousands of channels of raw data. To wirelessly transmit this large amount of data, more power is also needed which means either bigger batteries or more frequent recharging.

This is not feasible as there is limited space in the brain for implants while frequent recharging means the implants cannot be used for long-term recording of signals.

Instead of enlarging the power source to support thetransmission of raw data, Basu tried to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted.

Designed to be extremely power-efficient, the smart chip will analyse and decode the thousands of signals from the neural implants in the brain, before compressing the results and sending it wirelessly to a small external receiver.

The smart chip is designed to analyse data patterns and spot any abnormal or unusual patterns.

For example, in a remote video camera, the chip can be programmed to send a video back to the servers only when a specific type of car or something out of the ordinary is detected, such as an intruder.

This would be extremely beneficial for the Internet of Things (IOT), where every electrical and electronic device is connected to the Internet through a smart chip.

Using the chip, the devices can process and analyse the data on site, before sending back important details in a compressed package, instead of sending the whole data stream. This will reduce data usage by over a thousand times.

The research was published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.

Researchers Create First Self-Assembled, Three-Dimensional Superconductor

Researchers Create First Self-Assembled, Three-Dimensional Superconductor

Researchers at Cornell University have blazed a new trail by creating a self-assembled, three-dimensional superconductor.

It is the first time a superconductor, in this case niobium nitride (NbN), has self-assembled into a porous, 3D gyroidal structure, said lead researcher Ulrich Wiesner, a materials science and engineering professor.

The gyroid is a complex cubic structure based on a surface that divides space into two separate volumes that are inter-penetrating and contain various spirals.

“We are saying to the superconducting community, ‘Hey, look guys, these organic block copolymer materials can help you generate completely new superconducting structures and composite materials, which may have completely novel properties and transition temperatures. This is worth looking into,'” Wiesner said.

The findings appeared in the journal Science Advances.

Currently, superconductivity for practical uses such as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and fusion reactors is only possible at near about -273 degrees Celsius, although recent experimentation has yielded superconducting at a comparatively balmy -70 degrees Celsius.

“There is this effort in research to get superconducting at higher temperatures, so that you do not have to cool anymore,” Wiesner said.

“That would revolutionise everything. There is a huge impetus to get that,” Wiesner explained.

In the first attempt to achieve superconductivity, the niobium oxide was heated to a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius.

After cooling the material to room temperature, it was determined that superconductivity had not been achieved. The same material was then heated to 850 degrees, cooled and tested, and superconductivity had been achieved.

“We tried going directly to 850, and that did not work,” Wiesner said.

“So we had to heat it to 700, cool it and then heat it to 850 and then it worked,” Wiesner noted.

Nasa’s New Horizons Probe Captures Pluto’s Blue Atmosphere in Infrared

Nasa's New Horizons Probe Captures Pluto's Blue Atmosphere in Infrared

Nasa has released an image capturing the first look at Pluto’s blue atmosphere in infrared wavelengths which was taken by its New Horizons spacecraft.

The photo captured in July last year was made with data from the New Horizons Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument.

In the image, sunlight is coming from above and behind Pluto while New Horizons was about 180,000 kilometres away.

The image covers LEISA’s full spectral range (1.25 to 2.5 microns), which is divided into thirds, with the shortest third being put into the blue channel, middle third into the green channel, and longest into the red channel.

There is a blue ring around Pluto which is caused by sunlight scattering from haze particles common in Pluto’s atmosphere, Nasa scientists said.

They believe the haze is a photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules, producing a complex mixture of hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene.

These hydrocarbons accumulate into small particles – a fraction of a micrometre in size – which scatter sunlight to make the blue haze, scientists said.

The new infrared image, when combined with earlier images made at shorter, visible wavelengths, gives scientists new clues into the size distribution of the particles.

There are whitish patches around Pluto’s limbs, which are sunlight bouncing off more reflective or smoother areas on Pluto’s surface – with the largest patch being the western section of the informally named Cthulhu Regio, Nasa said.

Jeff Bezos’ Space Company Successfully Re-Flies, Lands Rocket for the Second Time

Jeff Bezos' Space Company Successfully Re-Flies, Lands Rocket for the Second Time

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space transportation company, Blue Origin, successfully launched and landed a suborbital rocket for a second time, a key step in its quest to develop reusable boosters, the company said on Friday.

The New Shepard rocket and capsule, which is designed to carry six passengers, blasted off from a launch site in West Texas at 11:22am CST (5:22pm GMT or 10:52pm IST) and landed itself minutes later back on the launch pad, the company said in a statement.

The rocket that flew on Friday was the same vehicle that made a successful test launch and landing two months ago, demonstrating reuse, Bezos said in a statement posted on Blue Origin’s website 10 hours after the flight.

“I’m a huge fan of rocket-powered vertical landing,” Bezos wrote. “To achieve our vision of millions of people living and working in space, we will need to build very large rocket boosters. And the vertical landing (system) scales extraordinarily well.”

Fellow tech titan Elon Musk’s SpaceX in December successfully returned a rocket to a landing pad in Florida after it blasted off on a satellite-delivery mission.

Blue Origin and SpaceX are among a handful of companies working to develop rockets that can fly themselves back to Earth so they can be refurbished and flown again, potentially slashing launch costs.

SpaceX on Sunday attempted to land a rocket on a platform floating in the Pacific Ocean, but one of the booster’s four landing legs gave way and the rocket keeled over and exploded.

For now, Blue Origin is flying suborbital rockets, which do not have the speed to put spacecraft into orbit around Earth. The company is working on a more powerful rocket engine, with testing slated to begin this year, Bezos said.

Researchers Find Solar System’s Possible Ninth Planet Beyond Neptune

Researchers Find Solar System's Possible Ninth Planet Beyond Neptune

The solar system may host a ninth planet that is about 10 times bigger than Earth and orbiting far beyond Neptune, according to research published on Wednesday.

Computer simulations show that the mystery planet, if it exists, would orbit more than 50 times farther from the sun than Earth, astronomers with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said.

So far, the planet has not been observed directly.

“It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting,” said astronomer Mike Brown, whose discovery was published in this week’s Astronomical Journal.

Brown and astronomer Konstantin Batygin, also at Caltech, initially were sceptical that such a large planet would have eluded detection.

But they modelled the hypothetical planet’s gravitational effects on several known bodies in the region and found a near-perfect match.

The computer model also predicted the location of other objects beyond Neptune, in a region known as the Kuiper Belt, and those were found in archived surveys as well.

At that point, “my jaw sort of hit the floor,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown’s earlier research helped to demote Pluto in 2006 as the solar system’s ninth planet after other small, icy bodies were found beyond Neptune.

“All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found,” Brown said.

‘Second Largest’ Black Hole in the Milky Way Discovered

'Second Largest' Black Hole in the Milky Way Discovered

A team of Japanese astronomers has discovered an enigmatic gas cloud just 200 light years away from the centre of the Milky Way that can be the possible missing link in the black hole evolution.

This may be the first detection of an intermediate mass black hole (IMBH).

Astronomers already know about two sizes of black holes: stellar-mass black holes, formed after the gigantic explosions of very massive stars and supermassive black holes (SMBH) often found at the centres of galaxies.

The mass of SMBH ranges from several million to billions of times the mass of the Sun.

What makes the gas cloud named “CO-0.40-0.22” unusual is its surprisingly wide velocity dispersion.

The cloud contains gas with a very wide range of speeds.

The team found this mysterious feature with two radio telescopes, the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope in Japan and the ASTE Telescope in Chile both operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

The team performed a simple simulation of gas clouds flung by a strong gravity source.

They found that a model using a gravity source with 100 thousand times the mass of the Sun inside an area with a radius of 0.3 light years provided the best fit to the observed data.

“Considering the fact that no compact objects are seen in X-ray or infrared observations, this, as far as we know, the best candidate for the compact massive object is a black hole,” said lead researcher Tomoharu Oka, professor at Keio University in Japan in a paper that appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

If the cloud CO-0.40-0.22 contains an intermediate mass black hole, it might support the intermediate mass black hole merger scenario of SMBH evolution.

A recent study suggested that there are 100 million black holes in the Milky Way Galaxy but X-ray observations have only found dozens so far.

Most of the black holes may be “dark” and very difficult to see directly at any wavelength.

“Investigations of gas motion with radio telescopes may provide a complementary way to search for dark black holes,” Oka added.

European Space Boss Has ‘Crazy’ Moon Village Plan

European Space Boss Has 'Crazy' Moon Village Plan

The European Space Agency’s new boss elaborated Friday on his vision for a multinational research village on the Moon a leading contender for a project to succeed the International Space Station.

For now, it is just an idea called “crazy” by some but one that Jan Woerner said was being widely discussed as the end of the ISS looms large.

The broad concept is a base for lunar exploration by humans and robots, potentially a stopover for spacecraft and possibly even a mining site.

“It’s not to build some small houses over there and then to have a city hall and a church and whatever,” said Woerner, who took over as ESA director general last July.

The Moon Village would have “multiple uses and multiple users”, he told journalists in Paris.

“Maybe one country is more interested in science, another may be a private company interested in mining… and another may be interested to use the Moon as a stepping stone for further exploration,” he explained.

“This is the overall scheme, and we are now discussing of course worldwide whether there is enough interest in that to go ahead with it,” said Woerner.

The timing, he added, would be “post-ISS”.

The orbiting science station is a joint project of Europe, Canada, the United States, Japan and Russia.

All members but the European Union have agreed to operate and finance the ISS to at least 2024.

Liking ‘crazy’
Woerner insisted Friday the ISS “has its value” and said he hoped to convince member states that “ESA should continue” its involvement in the project.

Europe is currently committed until 2020.

As for the future, “I see the Moon Village as the ideal successor of the International Space Station for… exploration,” said Woerner.

“So far, there is no competitive proposal on the table.”

Unlike the ISS, he explained, a lunar village required no “formal decision” among countries.

“It is more an understanding of many nations to go together to the Moon.”

What is important, however, is a discussion on the best location to settle. “Is it the far side? Is it the near side? Is it the poles?”

Once a spot is chosen, said Woerner, individual countries or space agencies will decide how they want to take part in the project.

Who would take part?

“Russia has some lunar missions planned, so why not have them as part of the Moon Village?” asked Woerner, noting also that “the Chinese are planning some lunar missions.”

He also said he did not mind that some think his idea hare-brained.

“The word ‘crazy’ is exactly something I would like,” he said. “We have to think out of the box. That means new ideas.”

Woerner said he had mooted his idea at two space gatherings last year, in the United States and in Israel, and “I’ve had several organisations worldwide saying to me: ‘How can we participate?’.”

The scheme will come up in talks with the space agencies of the US, Japan, Canada and Russia in the coming weeks, on the future of the ISS.

“And we will have discussions with other countries and states worldwide,” said Woerner.

“We need an idea of where to go and what to do.”

Nasa Says Partners Bringing It Closer to Manned Mars Mission Goal

Nasa Says Partners Bringing It Closer to Manned Mars Mission Goal

Nasa is closer than ever to sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s and is empowering US entrepreneurs and innovators to expand the nascent commercial market in low-Earth orbit, the US space agency administrator Charlie Bolden has said.

“Nasa is on a journey to Mars and a new consensus is emerging around our plan, vision and timetable for sending American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s,” Bolden said in a statement on Thursday.

“Our strategy calls for working with commercial partners to get our astronauts and cargo to theInternational Space Station (ISS) while Nasa also focuses – simultaneously – on getting our astronauts to deep space,” he added.

In 2010, US President Barack Obama pledged that Nasa would work “with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable”.

According to Bolden, less than six years later, commercial carriers have transported 35,000 pounds of space cargo to the ISS.

“We would be so firmly on track to return launches of American astronauts to the ISS from American soil on American commercial carriers,” he wrote.

Since the first SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission to deliver cargo to the ISS in October 2012 and Orbital ATK’s first Cygnus mission in January 2014, American companies have delivered cargo to the ISS that enables astronauts to work on scientific research and technology demonstrations aboard the ISS.

Across the board, about 80 percent of Nasa’s activities are carried out by its partners in industry and at America’s academic institutions.

The US space agency is developing more than 1,600 new technologies a year and work with business partners to transfer thousands of products, services and processes into the market for job creation and economic growth.

“In other words, at Nasa we’re exploring deep space, but we’re anchored right here on Earth where we’re creating jobs and fuelling innovation, technology development and growth, recognising that it all depends on American ingenuity and innovation,” Bolden emphasised.

New Incandescent Lightbulb Prototype Can Recycle Heat

New Incandescent Lightbulb Prototype Can Recycle Heat

Scientists have developed a new technique to improve the efficiency of traditional lightbulbs by recycling the waste energy and focusing it back on the filament where it is re-emitted as visible light.

Incandescent lightbulbs produce light by using electricity to heat a thin, tungsten wire filament to temperatures of around 2,700 degrees Celsius.

This causes the filament to glow and produce a broad spectrum, warm white light.

However, lightbulbs of this type are hugely inefficient – they only convert around 2-3 per cent of the energy they use into light – the rest is wasted as heat.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in US used nanotechnology to build a structure that surrounds the filament of the bulb and captures the leaking infrared radiation, reflecting it back to the filament where it is re-absorbed and then re-emitted as visible light.

The structure is made from thin layers of a type of light-controlling crystal.

The layers are stacked in a way that allows the visible wavelengths to pass through, while infrared get reflected back to the filament as if in a mirror, researchers said.

“It is not so much the material you make the surrounding structure from, it is how you arrange the material to create the optical filtering property that will recycle infra red light and let the visible light through,” lead author Ognjen Illic told ‘BBC News’.

The crystal structures could boost the efficiency of incandescent bulbs to 40 per cent, making them three times more efficient than the best LED or CFL bulbs on the market.

The researchers have built their first proof-of-concept units which reach an efficiency of 6.6 per cent, which is almost three times the level of a standard incandescent bulb.

The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.