NW_19991222_en_(External) Starlab Launches I-Wear Consortium on Intelligent Clothing

December 22, 1999

Starlab, a Deep Future research laboratory, together with an international group of corporate sponsors, is launching a consortium that wants you to be able to wear your office, your gym, your medical clinic, the Department of the Environment and a policeman -- and still travel light.

Starlab’s research centre employs 53 top scientists from 23 countries, and is unique in Europe due to its diverse range of research specialties and innovative business model. Starlab works with industrial sponsors to catalyze the rethinking of their core business and spark new markets, products, and services.


The project is called "i-wear" and it involves the melding of usually disparate technologies and industries, including – among many others – computing, electronics, communications, chemistry, textiles, fabrics and fashion. Walter Van de Velde, Starlab’s director of research, has described i-Wear as being a "second skin," a new way of connecting with our bodies, and with the world.

Starlab is conducting research on intelligent clothing that is aware of your activity, so that, for example, different features will come into play when you are in a meeting rather than when you are in the kitchen or in bed. Applications could include an intelligent jogging suit that provides a detailed analysis of your body’s performance, or a pair of jeans that accumulates a memory of what you do during the day. The researchers are working closely with designers and fashion consultants too, lest considerations of colour, texture, mood, personality or display be ignored.

The Consortium

Within the i-Wear consortium, parties from different backgrounds and with varying interests will be able to interact creatively and to network. Sponsoring Starlab gives them access to a neutral platform from which to derive insights and to define their future markets. Their forces are being joined to sponsor technology so ‘micro’ that it will be ‘wearable.’ In return for sponsorship partners get access to all research results developed at Starlab. i-Wear thus effectively acts as a pool of intellectual property and know-how. This model spreads the costs and the risks among sponsors, with a time horizon that extends to 5 years and beyond.


Projects associated with so-called ‘intelligent clothing’ do exist, but i-Wear is distinct for a number of reasons, including the fact of its sheer range. The diverse activities of the consortium members naturally complement Starlab’s exceptionally wide spectrum of research.

To take just one example, the cross-fertilization at Starlab makes it possible for chemists, health experts, computer scientists, engineers and other technological experts to collaborate in producing tiny sensors or networks of sensors whereby you could monitor the health of your baby, an aged parent, or yourself as you jog. You could also simultaneously know about hazardous substances, or radiation, in the atmosphere around you.

It has been said many times at Starlab that "The Internet is nothing compared to what is coming." It is, of course, in a very nature of the work that these professionals do – and it is the very basis of Starlab’s policy – that inventions which transform our lives and our world very swiftly become routine.

For further information, please contact Amy McMorrow, [email protected] Tel: +32 (02) 740-0780

Background on Starlab NV

As an independent laboratory for fundamental research, Starlab was established as an independent Belgian company in 1998. Starlab’s CEO, Walter de Brouwer, began assembling a research team at the end of 1996, recruiting experts – half of them above Ph.D. level – in areas such as quantum computation, molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence as well as biotechnology, medical science and protein folding. The cross-pollination between these different research sectors is already beginning to yield some precious fruits, but Starlab is devoted to the long-term perspective – to the "deep future." Starlab’s research is financed largely on the basis of industrial sponsorship, complemented from funding agencies and, to a limited extent, consultancy services. Starlab currently employs 53 highly qualified staff and is achieving a turnover of around 100 million BEF (2.5 million EURO) in the space of a year. Starlab has been recognized by the European Commission as a European Research Establishment and also enjoys the support of the Flemish authorities.