Wearable Billboards? Adobe Debuts Interactive Material With Ad Potential

Adobe, the company that pioneered software like Photoshop, unveiled a material that can change color and patterns in real time. Though it's still in the proof-of-concept stage, it holds promise for advertising and fashion use, according to the company.

“Creatives are always looking for new canvases to play with,” said Christine Dierk, who was part of the team that designed the material.

Dubbed Project Primrose, the material contains reflective light-diffuser modules on oversized sequins to create a wearable digital display. 

Using the material, advertisers could create a walking dynamic billboard because the image can change in real time. It allows wearers to display content created with Adobe Firefly, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Stock, and Adobe Illustrator.

It can be worn as a static picture or animated. The dress responds as the person wearing it moves.



Dierk said the fabric also can be interactive. The sequins are similar to miniature screens constructed from smart materials.

Adobe unveiled the material at its Adobe MAX 2023 event in Los Angeles last week.

Still, Adobe has a steep hill to climb. Google and Levi’s partnered in 2015 to develop and release a new line of clothing that allowed users to interact with their phones through the fabric. It didn’t catch on; nor did Google Glass, which the X team developed as eye glasses to access the internet.

Google and Saint Laurent in 2017 launched a backpack with Jacquard support. The first early adopter of the Jacquard platform was Levi's. The Jacquard platform made possible the Jacquard Tag, which was smaller than a stick of gum and had a battery life of up to two weeks. The tag connects to an app and allowed users to personalize the wardrobe. That didn’t catch on either.

Adobe published research on Project Primrose last year in the journal UIST '22: Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. The paper details how the material enables a display to become embedded in everyday fabric.

In technical terms, the research shows how the “system leverages reflective-backed polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC), an electroactive material commonly used in smart window applications,” and how the “low-power non-emissive material can be cut to any shape, and dynamically diffuses light.”

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