The future of Marie Kondo-ing your closet might involve fewer strained decisions, and a lot more hard data. Instead of asking yourself if every piece of clothing “sparks joy” in order to decide which items from your closet to discard, you could easily parse through the items that you rarely take off the hanger.

Researchers from Birmingham City University in the UK are testing the Internet of Clothes, a project based on attaching radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to garments to keep track of how often they’re worn. A tag reader—which is waterproof and can survive the heat of the washing machine—is placed inside the closet and will keep track of which sensor-equipped shirts or skirts get taken out regularly as well as which remain on their hangers.

Internet of Clothes

The lonely clothing sitting at the back of the closet can then tweet or text out reminders, begging to be worn. If you can resist the sad cries of your neglected blouse long enough, the Internet of Clothes will suggest that you donate the item to someone who actually needs it. It's just a prototype now, but the project has been shortlisted for a Network for Innovations in Culture and Creativity in Europe Award, and should the team win, the researchers will use the prize money to further develop the concept.

The fashion industry is a major source of pollution around the world. Americans send millions of pounds of clothing straight to landfills every year. A connected closet might help make people at least a little more conscious about how much of those additions to their wardrobe aren’t worth the cost.

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