Video Fabric?

March 6th, 2003

Luminex glowing fabricFrom the Department of Utterly Impractical Ideas:

I don’t usually get jazzed up about clothing. But consider this amazing new glowing fabric from Italy.

Actually, it’s not a fabric in itself — it’s a new type of luminescent fiber that can be sewn throughout all sorts of fabrics. You attach the fibers to a microchip with a battery power source, turn it on and the whole thing glows brilliantly.

The fibers are colorless by default, but they emit whatever color the microchip instructs them to emit. Imagine adding optical sensors and a little intelligence, so that your glowing clothes constantly change colors to match your surroundings. Walk from room to room in a dark club and you’ll change colors like a chameleon. Or imagine using audio sensors to make the colors pulsate with the surrounding music, or in time with the wearer’s heartbeat.

Better yet, could you use Luminex to turn your clothes into a video display? Perhaps you could cover thousands of fibers with an opaque coating except for the tips, then distribute the tips regularly throughout the clothing to form pixels. Then a microprocessor could control it all to display any imagery you can imagine.

Fancy PantsHow about having tiny video cameras in the clothing that capture the imagery in front of you and behind you, then display that imagery on either side of the video-display clothing? People facing you at just the right angle would see a freakish mirror-image of themselves — or they’d see a freakish live image of what’s behind you, so that you’d seem nearly transparent to them…

A big question: how expensive is this stuff? The Luminex site doesn’t even hint at the answer, which probably means it’s very pricey. Let’s hope Moore’s Law drives down the cost soon because I’m dying to play with this stuff.

(Credit where it’s due: I snagged the simulated-invisibility idea from The University of Tokyo’s Optical Camouflage project.)

UPDATE, 3-10-03: Thessy reports that a Swiss distributor sells Luminex at prices much lower than the U.S. distributor’s: 40-60 Euros per meter, which equals about US$41-US$61 per yard. Details below in the comments.

UPDATE, 3-7-03: The U.S. Luminex distributor sent prices and details. In brief, it’s very expensive (fabric costs US$280-US$450 per yard, depending on the type of fabric used) and so far you can’t light up a fiber with any color on the fly. But the fibers are lit by LED’s at the base, and you can have two LED’s merging light of two colors into the same fibers to create the range of colors between the two chosen LED colors. Theoretically, I think it could be possible to create a triple-LED system to create any color, but apparently nobody has done this yet. Details below in the “comments” section, where the full sales message was posted. (By the way, I don’t know any Luminex people and I’m not getting any sort of commission or kickback.)

26 Responses to “Video Fabric?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Dav

    Thank you for your interest in Luminex…

    We are Zuzka, the exclusive Distribution & Product Development team for Luminex in the US & Canada.

    Yes, the optical fiber fabric is available for purchase!

    The minimum is 50 yards per fabric type, however, we will soon be able to offer smaller quantities for small projects.

    The fabric is woven with optical fiber (and is illuminated by the highest quality LED’s using various power sources-3.6v rechargeable batteries or AC “plug-in”) in the following fabrics:

    – Double sided LED polyester (sheer quality/ 7 colors) 58 “w $280/yd
    – Lycra 58 “w $280/yd
    – Super Velo (extra densely woven optical fibers) TK

    LED colors available: white, blue, red, green, &yellow

    Standard fabrics allow the LED color to be different every 18”

    Double sided fabrics are capable of having two different colored LED’s merging into the same fibers to create additional colors

    Orders for quantity and for custom made sample products (i.e: pillows, jackets, etc.) can processed by phone and finished to your specs.

    Yardage Prices do not include rechargeable 3.6v battery and recharging kit.

    all SAMPLES must be purchased: $234-364/yd
    battery: $24 per battery
    recharger kit: $26 per recharger.

    weaves available include 7 kinds of poly’s: white, blue, silver, gold, red, green, cream & black

    Delivery is currently 4-8 weeks

    please do not hesitate to contact me for more info:

    Christopher Berger
    Zuzka for Fabricology Inc.
    37 East 18th Street, Suite 10
    New York, NY 10003

    T 212. 260.1876
    F 212. 260.7963

  2. comment number 2 by: jessica

    wow. if only i were rich and needed my clothes to be powered. πŸ˜‰ it’s pretty neat though.

    thanks for referring me to those two websites!! ( and they are both really great. i am particularly enjoying the pictures of tokyo since i really really really want to go to japan. *sigh*

    so thanks. πŸ™‚

  3. comment number 3 by: Nigel

    Simulated Invisibility is already standard issue for all 00 rated British Secret Agents. May I refer you to the recent documentary “Die Another Day” which demonstrated the capability with his car.
    On a more serious note (!) I can see the concept taking off with people’s clothing running advertisement videos producing a form of moving billboard.

  4. comment number 4 by: Sean

    Here’s the pricelist and contact info for the cheaper Swiss distributor:,

    Prices from stabiotextil (as reported by Thessy):
    fabric – Euro 40 – 60.-/metre
    battery – Euro 18.-/piece
    battery charger – Euro 12.-/piece
    led (diode) – Euro 2.5.-/piece
    cable – Euro 1.-/metre
    plugs – Euro 1.-/piece
    connecting piece – Euro 0.5.-/piece

    The fiber optics are not connected on the fabric price listed above,
    assembly price per specific item will be quoted upon request. All
    hardware needed for assembly is listed above.

  5. comment number 5 by: Blaine

    This is such a “different” thing that what everybody else has I’m sure people will pay up the nose for it. Not that I would though…

  6. comment number 6 by: La Loni

    This fabric would be sweet to use for Kite making. To have an image on the kite illuminate or just the whole kite illuminating and changing colours in the night sky. Its a sweet thought.

  7. comment number 7 by: pete

    my underpants already glow in the dark without this material. should i be worried?

  8. comment number 8 by: sean

    Worried? You should be thrilled! You can clone those underpants and sell them to Japanese salarymen.

  9. comment number 9 by: thessy mehrain

    Update–my friend roger returned from switzerland with a glowing shirt for me…yeah!
    I have been putting together light-up cloths since 10 years and here is one ready-made…
    it’s a blue tank top with a velcro closure to one side…

    it lights up beautifully blue in dim to dark light situations. there is room for improvements, but it’s definitely nice.

    roger promised to experiment with the luminex material he got…and hold your breath…he’s a fizzycyst at SLAC (linear accellerator lab) and will come up with something fab!!!

    there is more happening at the MIT media lab and elsewhere in this regard…

    nano fibres and fabric that retains parfume…how about that…??


    referring to a note above….Luminex at this time wouldn’t be able to display images since the fibre are layed out vertically and not in a horizontal grid. I have seen a prototype though in 1998 of a jacket (built by the kids of investor Soros with the help of 2 engineers ) that had a little field of fibre optics on the back that were animated…pretty nifty if it wasn’t for the TimeWarner sensibiliy :-))
    I have never seen it commercially available , but I am sure similar fun is just a short time away.

  10. comment number 10 by: Muhammad Saleem

    Dear Sr.,

    We are manufacturing of gloves. We are seeking the materials used in gloves. Kindly, give us detail of your fabrics to us.

    If you need any additional information, please ,let us know.

    Look to hear from you soon.

    Muhammad Saleem






    FAX: 0092 432 262047

    TEL: 0092 432 272048

  11. comment number 11 by: Lauren Larue

    You can buy the fiber optics by the yard and sew them into the fabric or clothes of your choice… then you can buy an LED keychain or any small battery powered light, and affix your fiber optics to the light, which you can switch on and off at will. Its a little cheaper than a trip to Switzerland, and you don’t have to wear that nasty polyester if you don’t want to.

    I ordered my fiber optics online from a company called eletronix express ( Order unjacketed fiber in 4 different diameters, 250 being the smallest, 2000 the widest, and sew yourself a glow worm costume or something.

  12. comment number 12 by: Rafique

    I am interested in buying a tank top and a hand bag for my girl friend in China made out of this material. Where can I buy these items ready made. Or if some one can make them for me.


  13. comment number 13 by: Saint

    I had come across this product a few years back and i must say zuzka is ripping everyone off it’s known throughout the industry. there are many other products out there that glow and have the ability to glow just do a search.

  14. comment number 14 by: Tharanga Nanayakkara


    I am intersting on the fabrics made out of optical fibers. Pls send me pictures of those fabrics(decorative fictures) to the above mentioned mail address

    Thanx & best regards


  15. comment number 15 by: leila

    I am surprised that people are thinking of such small scale regarading luminex. Fair enough it is expensive to buy and produce things out of.BUt the impacts of its potential uses are so great, idea of invisibility,luminescence,camouflage are intriguing and potential assets to future interior designs.Live walls that blur boundaries,walls as a separation may not even be now.

    Anyway I’m doing research on live technology for interior spaces at the minute, in my final year. Does any on have any comments onto where their fantasies of future designs. What sort of environment would you dream of experiencing????

    Leila from melbourne, Australia.

  16. comment number 16 by: ofer

    I am an industrial designer in a big company. i wonder where can i get/buy a small sample of this fabric – so i can see how it looks and feel its flexity.

    can i weave into polymers?

  17. comment number 17 by: suresh kumar


    i am a diploma student in textile technology.

    i am doing my final year.i decided to do a project on illuminated textiles (fabric glowing in dark or by sunlight ).i want coplete details

    about the treatments made for the please

    send me through mail.

    thanling you.

  18. comment number 18 by: suresh kumar


    i want the complete details about the process involved in making a fabric glowing in dark or by sunlight.i ask this for doing my project work titled “illuminated textiles”

  19. comment number 19 by: sean@cheesebikini


    I am not the inventor of this fabric, I don’t sell it, and I don’t own any of it. I don’t know any more about it than what you see written above. If you need more information about this fabric, please contact the distributors, listed above, or the creators.

  20. comment number 20 by: jimmy S.

    I am interested in this product. If the owners of this product see my comment I would like you to get a hold of me. Or if there is an investor out there that needs someone like me with creativity and superlative marketing concepts. I have something big awaiting this concept. You can reach me at the above e mail address.

  21. comment number 21 by: wholesale distributor

    wholesale distributor

    wholesale distributor

  22. comment number 22 by: wholesale fabric

    wholesale fabric

    wholesale fabric

  23. comment number 23 by: a great fabric store


    I love this fabric. I am looking forward to the fabric getting to the fabric stores as this is something we would carry. Very Unique!!!!

    Keep it up,
    J & O Fabrics

  24. comment number 24 by: Heiko Betz


    I will create an international fabric onlinestore for the fabric prodicts like clothes, gift etc.

    You canΓƒβ€šΓ‚Β΄t find any onlinestores in ……..

    so maybe I can start the first one ^^

    I will sell it for the european prices…not the US one…(280 usd / yard… expensive…)

  25. comment number 25 by: sky brand clothing

    glowing clothing will revolutionize the industry and make us all look like jellyfish in the ocean lol!

  26. comment number 26 by: sky brand clothing