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Apple Smart Garment patent tells you when to buy new clothes

Apple has patented a bit of Nike+ tech that could tell you when it's time to buy new clothes. Handy, or annoying?

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

Apple takes an obscene amount of pride in its products, and it could be extending that pride to ensuring owners of its shiny gadgets are appropriately attired. The Californian iPhone-maker has been awarded a patent for 'Smart Garment' tech, which would tell you when your clothing had reached the end of its "useful lifetime".

The patent relates to Apple's Nike+ iPod gadgetry, according to Patently Apple. That's the little orange sensor you stick in specially designed Nike shoes and communicates directly with your iPhone or iPod touch.

This patent suggests Apple could be looking to stick Nike+ in other vestments. Cross-country skiing and in-line skating are mentioned, but other "authorised garments" could be on the cards.

Our minds are racing trying to think of applications for this kind of tech -- our first thought is a Nike+-style module in every item of clothing, and if your iPhone detects that you're wearing clothes that don't go together, it administers a powerful electric shock through your trousers.

The patent mentions sensors could send information on garment usage and "detected wear patterns" to an external database, so as well as telling you when your clothes need replacing, your iOS device could send you frantic notifications reading, "You wore this shirt two days ago, everyone will know you haven't washed it."

Interesting times, especially for outdoorsy types who like tracking their muscle-gain progress using their mobiles.

Apple has been awarded some other intriguing patents recently too, including one for a super-wide trackpad that covers the wrist-rest part of a laptop.

Would you like your clothes to talk to your mobile phone or MP3 player? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook wall.