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Adobe introduces new tech via an interactive dress

Swatches | February 1, 2024 | By:

At the 2023 Adobe® MAX conference in Los Angeles, Calif., Christine Dierk, one of the research scientists on Project Primrose, modeled a dress with the technology embedded in it, demonstrating how the dress’s design can change patterns and style with Bluetooth® and a mobile device or interaction. Images: Adobe

A team of Adobe® researchers has created a system that may change the look of future fashion, allowing wearers the ability to change or update their outfits in real time.

Known as Project Primrose, the technology allows an entire surface to display content created with Adobe Firefly™, Adobe After Effects®, Adobe Stock and Adobe Illustrator®

It is designed to be attached to textile substrates using reflective-backed polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC), an electroactive film commonly used in smart window applications. Semi-rigid in structure and non-emissive, the reflective-backed PDLC can dynamically diffuse light and be cut into any shape. 

Project Primrose was presented by Christine Dierk, Ph.D., an Adobe research scientist on the project specializing in human-computer interaction, at the Adobe MAX conference last fall in Los Angeles, Calif. Dierk modeled a dress featuring the technology, demonstrating its ability to change patterns and style with a simple movement or the click of a button.

Each display module controls eight hexagon-shaped vertically stacked “petals,” which are controlled by the motherboard, a traditional rigid print circuit board powered by batteries or tethered power supplies. The motherboard also includes sewing holes, allowing it to be sewn directly to textile substrates.

“Fashion doesn’t have to be static; it can be dynamic and even interactive,” Dierk says in the presentation.

The appearance of each display module is determined by the intensity setting of each petal, including average, maximum and minimum. The higher the intensity setting, the more transparent the liquid crystal molecules will appear, allowing light to be transmitted through the material. The lower the intensity setting, the more opaque the liquid crystal molecules will appear, allowing less light to be transmitted.

Displays can be changed either through Bluetooth® and a mobile device or through embedded gesture-based sensors. Using Bluetooth and a mobile device, the wearer can manually select what content to display, modify the frame rate or play/pause animation. Using the embedded sensors, the wearer can twist, turn or gesture to automatically change the display content.

The researchers hope that in the future, designers will be able to layer this flexible display technology into clothing, furniture and other surfaces, creating infinite style combinations.

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