Two of today's hottest areas of design innovation – data visualization and materials science – converge in a new project by NYU students Sue Ngo and Nien Lam. Warning Signs are garments outfitted with carbon monoxide sensors that make blue veins appear on lung- and heart-shaped thermochromic fabric appliques when a high level of air pollution is detected.
The project is part of the duo's Master's coursework at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and is designed to serve as a visceral awareness tool for an environmental issue so ubiquitous we often fail to notice it.
Though still a prototype, the Warning Signs addresses a serious issue which, left unmanaged, can have unspeakably tragic results. It would be interesting to see residential applications of the technology – from a couch that lights up when a carbon monoxide leak is detected to a rug that changes patterns based on atmospheric pollution levels.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.