Color-Changing Shirts Sniff Out Air Pollution [VIDEO]

What if detecting urban pollution was as easy as looking down at your neighbor’s chest? It is–if your neighbor is wearing one of the high-tech sweatshirts designed by NYU grad students Sue Ngo and Nien Lam. The shirts, designed for a class on wearable technologies, feature internal organs that change colors depending on the levels of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere (hat tip: NY Daily News).

Lam and Ngo’s shirts use tiny carbon-monoxide detectors to detect pollutants. When the detectors sniff out pollutants, a microcontroller sends electrical currents through the shirts, heating up wires that run under the internal organs (lungs or heart, depending on the shirt).

The shirts are made of thermochromic fabric that change color as the temperature changes. In this video, Ngo and Lam laser-cut organs out of the fabric:

And below, the finished product:

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.