Scientists at MIT are working on ‘functional fibers’ that could be woven into U.S. Army uniforms to enable soldiers to communicate with each other. The microscopic golden fibers are the product of years of research at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.
While they are currently too thick for a uniform, the team plans to scale them down, test and refine the design. The fibers could make identifying fellow soldiers on the battlefield easier.
Wired reports that you could shine a laser designator on someone and if they’re wearing the same uniform the fibers would sense it and send a signal back to your shirt. Heat-sensitive fibers could also help medics identify wounds by examining heat patterns from the shirt. ISN director John Joannopoulos said:
Your uniform would transit that information. You wouldn’t be talking, it would transmit information: who you are, what time you went down, where the wounds are, what is the estimated severity of the wound, et cetera. The idea with these fibers is that eventually, we’d like to enable full-body sensing for the soldier.