Photochromia: Sunlight-Sensitive Apparel

Print All Over Me and wearable tech studio The Crated collaborate for futuristic T-shirts and backpacks that react to UV rays


At the moment, companies seem eager to keep wearable technology constrained to a simple accessory around the wrist, but NYC-based wearable tech research studio The Crated, along with digital printing platform Print All Over Me (POAM), have grand plans for smart textiles. The two collaborated on an apparel collection called “Photochromia,” where every piece—from caps to backpacks—reacts to sunlight. Thanks to color-changing photochromic inks, designs seem to appear or disappear based on the presence of UV light.

The Crated takes note from “The Second Machine Age,” a recent book by two MIT professors which mentions that recombinant innovation—or using existing technologies in new ways—is the future. “We saw that photochromic inks were only being used for tourist wear and art projects—nothing that a creative technologist or early adopter would wear in the streets of New York,” The Crated co-founder Madison Maxey tells CH. “Photochromia pieces are a bit crazy as full get-ups, but as individual pieces, they’re relevant to current trends. We think innovation truly is impactful when it’s consumable on a large scale, so we decided to take a technology, photochromic ink, and design around it with the aim of making responsive garments something people want to wear.”


The Crated “couldn’t help but get a bit nerdy” as they brought their favorite physics, computer science, biology and math concepts to the garments. Photochromia’s designs reference everything from Schrödinger’s cat to ASCII and epitrochoids. “Past general interest, we think it’s import to promote being multidisciplinary,” says Maxey. “Creative technology is an incredible space and it’s all about merging the worlds of art and science.” Photochromia is a glimpse into a future where responsive clothing could be the norm for daily attire, that could indicate your health activity to mood.

Pick up a UV responsive cap for $25, T-shirt for $50 or backpack for $110 by backing Photochromia’s Kickstarter campaign.

Images courtesy of Spencer Kohn