These Clothes Detect Pollution. Seriously.

Ok, you’re walking down a busy street in New York City. Of course, you have no way of knowing if the air is polluted or now. How could you?

But if you had on a Warning Signs shirt, it would do the work for you. If the air was polluted, the shirt would let you know. As you can see in the image above, the image of the lungs has several white lines snaking through it. This lets you know the air you’re breathing isn’t healthy.

Think I’m kidding here? Happily, I’m serious. Nien Lam and Sue Ngo, two grad students at NYU, have invented shirts that let you know if the air you’re breathing is heavily saturated with carbon monoxide. Take a look:

Where there is no pollution present, the lungs are pink and healthy looking. But when there is? The white lines appear, letting you know you need to skeedaddle out of there.

The students drew inspiration from those 1980s Hypercolor shirts. If you’re over 30 (like me) you’ll remember those shirts. They changed color depending on how hot or cold you were. Yeah, they were cool.

Well, the fabric they’re using is called thermochromatic fabric. And they’re working hard to expand their line to sense not only carbon monoxide, but also gas and methane.

I love these shirts because not only do they look cool, but they give us a disturbing reminder at the pollutants we breathe in every day that we don’t think about. Hopefully Warning Signs will continue to expand (right now the students have only created two shirts) so the rest of us can actually buy one.

You can find out more on how Nien and Sue are making these shirts on their blog.

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