Who wants a smartwatch or Google Glass when there is a hoodie that can send text messages for the person who wears it?

Now that technology companies have come up with ways to put their wearable devices around our wrists and over our eyes, it's not surprising to see the first smart hoodie that can sense its wearer's movements and send programmed messages according to these gestures. Two graduate students at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program equipped a sweater with an Arduino board and switches and went on to program the sweater to recognize a variety of gestures.

For their demonstration, Alina Balean and Rucha Patwardhan focused on sending text messages to family members. Touching the sweater's hood sent a message to mom to say the wearer misses her, rolling up a sleeve means the wearer is in school or at work, and touching the sleeve indicates the wearer is available for a Skype call with mom.

"We quickly knew that we wanted to build an object that isn't a piece of glass that lives in your jeans," says Balean. "The smart hoodie was born. The concept of putting the technology behind a cell phone into something truly wearable and everyday is what this project stands to represent. A portable, wearable phone."

The smart hoodie is not available in stores just yet, but it doesn't take a fashion designer to see the potential in this intelligent piece of clothing.

Take text-to-911 for example. There used to be no other choice for persons in danger to contact help except to make a phone call. However, calling someone on the phone could put someone's life in even more danger in some situations, and this prompted major mobile carriers to support free texts to 911. With a smart hoodie that can send a pre-programmed text, a gesture as discreet as touching the sleeve of one's sweater can work even better in saving someone's life.

Balean also believes a hoodie that can send text messages without requiring the wearer to type them out one by one will go a long way when travelling, keeping children safe and in other situations requiring discreet communication.

Major technology firms are not lagging far behind in the field of intelligent clothing. Intel, for instance, debuted its own Internet-connected shirt at the Re/code conference last month. The shirt, which has tiny sensors embedded into conductive fibers, can sense its wearer's heart rate and then use an embedded Edison micro-computer to send the information directly to the wearer's smartphone or computer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

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