Smart Pants?

Having machinery that can let you know when it’s about to need a new valve is very useful. A printer that reorders ink before it runs out is handy. But do we really need smart pants?

What’s smart about the pants?

Brazilian university researchers created a pair of pants with fiber optic cables. Sensors in the pockets track the changes in the shape of the cables and extrapolate through machine learning to identify specific movements by the wearer.

As the wearer changes position, the sensor classifies the changes in the cables as steps, jumps, kicks, sitting, and other movements.

For athletes, even weekend athletes, the smart pants can take the place of wearables like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, tracking workouts more accurately than a wearable on the wrist ever could.

For elderly people, the smart pants can alert caretaker to a fall or even a long time without movement. The cables are discreet and unobtrusive, so they might be less intrusive and more acceptable to individuals than a camera or other types of sensors.

Are these the first smart pants?

“Smart pants” can mean a lot of things, from exoskeletons providing greater physical strength for line workers to a pair that will alert you via phone if your fly is undone.

We haven’t found any workout pants or blue jeans with fitness trackers built in, though. We’re guessing that the need to do laundry may make it a little harder to get that kind of garment to market. This may be another of those smart devices that doesn’t get past the lab. We’ll watch its future career with interest, though.

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