Why would I want clothes taking photos?

I sometimes despair of the science and technology breakthroughs we get reported on the news. The latest to hit the BBC is that new smart fabric can detect the wavelengths and direction of the light falling on it. So immediately we get 'clothes could one day take snaps of everything occuring around them.'

This kind of thing is often partly the fault of the university press office, which churns out releases intended to catch the eye of the media, and may well have made this claim, but equally we have to raise an eyebrow at a broadcaster like the BBC. This isn't factual reporting.

The fact is, this is some interesting work, that could (probably in the rather distant future) have applications, particularly around the coordination of arrays of nanodevices. But the chances are that those applications won't be clothes that take photographs (the very thought of underwear taking snaps fills me with horror). It's a huge leap, and not necessarily a sensible one.

Yes, we need to make science writing interesting - but not by using fantasy.


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