My Shirt Is An iPod – SRI Opportunity?

Nice shirt, how many tunes does it store?  Thanks to developments recently reported in Nano Letters by a Stanford research team,  you might be asking this question sooner than you think and thinking SRI while you're at it.  Dr. Yi Cui and his colleagues have created cloth that can store and conduct electricity.  For conductivity,  dip the textile in an ink of single walled carbon nanotubes, then dry. The resulting cloth is highly conductive with outstanding stretchablility and flexiblity.  The conductivity will even survive repeated washings.

To store power, layer a non-conductive section of regular cloth in between conductive sections.  The result is a super-capacitor, with discharge/recharge capability good enough  to rival a lead-acid battery.  What more do we need to make that shirt an iPod?  Circuitry in the shirt, including some memory and controls.

Might it be feasible to pair this new nanotechnology with circuits using an older technology - conductive inks imprinted on the fabric?  One company that could answer this question is BASF SE – the German chemical giant listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index World.  Engelhard, now part of BASF, worked with conductive inks for industrial and novelty applications for years as an outgrowth of its precious metals expertise.  BASF also brings its own nano skills to the table, from several different functional areas.

Betting on the iShirt sounds like fun, but it's not easy.  Stanford is happy to accept contributions; investments – not so much.  You can buy as much BASF stock as you want, and that DJSIW listing sounds like SRI, but the faint gleam of possibility that the iShirt promises is a pretty small drop in the bucket of the world's biggest chemical company.

One thing we know for sure.  Somebody might make the shirt smart phone or the shirt device that stores and plays music, but nobody is calling it the iShirt unless Steve Jobs is along for the ride.  Maybe we'll finally get to see one of those famous Apple product intros where the real real Steve's turtleneck steals the show.   Before then, maybe Steve can get his own outfit (Apple, not the turtleneck) qualified as an SRI, or at least stop fighting off sustainability reporting.

Photo Credit: Zache