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Tiny Fabric-Clinging Robots Are A Fashion Statement

Tiny Fabric-Clinging Robots Are A Fashion Statement

If there’s one thing missing from modern fashion, it’s a flashy accessory that feels like a giant bug is crawling on the wearer at all times. Thanks (?) to the work done by researchers at MIT and Stanford, small robots can now climb all over clothing.

With magnet gripping wheels inside and outside the garment, the rovers cling to the shirts they’re on and can move about semi-autonomously. Why? Recode reports:

The researchers propose a number of possible use cases: A fleet of the robots could assemble on a wearer’s arm to create a display to watch video on the subway or tap a person on the shoulder when there’s new email. Or the wearable robots might roll up your sleeve or group into a safety light on your back when you’re riding a bicycle.

There might not be a large market in people who want a robot that moves up their sleeve to remind them about email, but the technology has applications beyond just clothing. Lockheed Martin has a large, fabric-crawling robot that it uses to inspect airships for leaks, and smaller versions of the technology could inspect all sorts of cloth structures. That’s not fashion, exactly, but airship leaks are never in style.

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