Internet of Clothes is a project at Birmingham City University that addresses clothes hoarding by conceptualising a connected wardrobe where garments can "request" to be donated to a charity if they are forgotten or left unworn. The smart wardrobe is made possible by radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects.
For the idea to work, clothing items in a connected wardrobe are tagged with washable RFID chips. The owner will categorise each garment with a name that identifies its use (rainwear, evening wear, etc.), along with an estimated frequency of wear. Inside the wardrobe, a small RFID reader tracks how often all items are removed and returned, and creates a database where all this information is recorded.
The database links to open weather data, and sends out Tweets or emails to the user, making customised outfit suggestions. During communication, each item will generate its own hashtag based on its given name, for example, #raincoat. If a garment is neglected, the RFID reader will email or Tweet a charity clothing organisation such as Oxfam Fashion, who will send out a mailing envelope for return.
The project sees the personal wardrobe as a sensible starting point to tackle the broader problem of over consumption. Globally we buy four times as many clothes as we did twenty years ago, and we only wear about 20 per cent of what’s in our wardrobes. The fashion industry takes a big toll on the environment with petrochemicals used during manufacturing, transport pollution during distribution and cotton crops laced with toxic pesticides.