Slowly but surely, robots will wind up in our clothes

In June, researchers in Australia created robotic textile fibers, which can make fabric move automatically. Last year, scientists at MIT fabricated computer programmable threads and built fiber batteries using battery gels that could embed into clothes and power robotic textiles. In a sign that the technology is approaching maturity, the intelligence community announced in July it’s looking to develop smart clothes for soldiers and spies.

Researchers said their work is at a turning point, and could soon unlock an era where clothing will act more like a computer, sensing how your body feels and telling your clothes how to help. In the coming decade, scientists said, customers can expect a whole range of futuristic offerings: pants that can help lift elderly or disabled people up; athletic socks that can promote blood flow through automatic compression; maternity clothes that could passively track fetal heart rates to improve pregnancy outcomes.