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7 Hi-Tech Tees

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We're all used to posts about the intersection between technology and design, or technology and medicine, but what about technology and fashion? Here are some t-shirts making the most of the latest and greatest tech innovations. (note: a few of these shirts are available for purchase over at ThinkGeek.com)

1. The Guitar Tee

Can't bring your guitar with you to the gym? Don't, er, fret! The electronic guitar tee is just what you need. This cool shirt sports a working guitar and mini amp with a magnetic pick. All of the buttons on the neck play different major chords, which makes it simple to handle, even if you don't play for real. And the chords are sampled from real electronic guitars! Oh, and, yeah, the mini-Marshall stack amplifier definitely goes to 11.

2. The Smart Tee

Here at mental_floss, we love all things smart. So this one is especially interesting to us: a shirt that not only features some cool technology, but could save a life. Originally designed at Georgia Tech for use in battle, the shirt is a wearable and wireless motherboard. This lightweight and unobtrusive garment can be worn under clothes and continually monitors vital signs. As it was originally designed, it allowed medics to learn about bullet wounds and vital signs of all combatants within minutes of any injury. By having this information readily available, medics were able to find and treat the neediest more quickly and efficiently. The smart shirt has been adapted for several other uses, such as for firemen and police, but also has more mainstream appeal. The shirt can be made into any size and customized to fit anyone. So, a much smaller version has been created to monitor babies who are prone to SIDS. Now that's smart!

3. The Wi-Fi Detector Tee

Tired of just getting settled and then opening your laptop to discover there is no Wi-Fi service in your cozy little corner? Now you can know immediately what signals are stitched around you (and the strengths). This revolutionary t-shirt has an animated graphic that you can peel off for washing. Best thing about it? You get the strength for 802.11b or 802.11g. You will need, however, 3 AAA batteries.

4. The Bulletproof Tee

Did you know that President Obama wore a bullet resistant suit during his inauguration? While these bullet resistant shirts are not as tough as a Kevlar vest, they can still stop a bullet from causing a life threatening injury. Lightweight and more comfortable than a vest, the t-shirts can be worn under any clothing, undetected. It's made out of carbon nanotubes, which are thought to be resilient to projectiles traveling at speeds of 200-1400 meters per second. (FYI: A typical rifle bullet flies at between 180 and 1500 meters per second.) In addition to stopping a bullet in its tracks, these shirts will cause the average person to freeze up when reaching for the wallet. For instance, a polo shirt that can stop a shot from a 9-mm revolver will run you about $7,500!

5. The Data-Logging Compression Shirt

Did you know torn ligaments from pitching injuries cost millions in salaries each year? Three students at Northwestern U did, which is part of the reason they set about inventing this cool shirt that monitors the movements of a pitcher and analyzes inconsistencies that could lead to injury. The shirt is a valuable training tool and can help coaches strategize when to replace a pitcher. Labrum tears can ruin a pitcher's career and torn ligaments lead to over $54 million dollars in lost wages every year for major league pitchers. The shirts can be produced for less than $200. Indeed, wearable technology has definitely hit the big leagues.

6. The Cardio Shirt

Working out is important for overall health, but how can you be sure you are working hard enough? The Cardio Shirt monitors your heart rate and transmits it to a special watch. You will always know exactly how fast your heart is beating without being irritated by heart monitor chest straps or those ridiculously inaccurate sensors on stationary bikes and elliptical machines. The shirt is perfect for athletes in training or the everyday jogger. Monitoring your workouts can lead to more effective use of your time and help you to detect any developing health problems by noticing changes in heart rate patterns.

7. The Personal Soundtrack Tee

Ever wish you were the star of your own TV show? Well, the Personal Soundtrack tee can make you feel like you are living in the movies. This t-shirt comes preprogrammed with 20 sound effects to help punctuate your day. However, you can also insert a SD memory card with your own top 20 hits and stream background music of your choice. But wait, there's more! Hook up the shirt to your iPod and the possibilities are endless. The shirt has a speaker integrated into the front and comes with a pocket sized remote. Oh, and, yeah, if you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you probably recognize the picture there from the episode where Rajesh Koothrappali wore one!

And while on the subject of tees, don't forget all the awesomely _flossy t-shirts over in our store!

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11 Classic Facts About Converse Chucks
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Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the early 20th century, but they haven’t changed much—until recently. In 2015, The Chuck II—a new line of Converse that looks much the same as the original shoe but with a little more padding and arch support—hit stores. In honor of the kicks' staying power, here are 11 facts about Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  

1. They were originally athletic shoes. 

The Converse All-Star debuted in 1917 as an athletic sneaker. It quickly became the number one shoe for basketball, then a relatively new sport (basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, but the NBA wasn't founded until 1946). By the late 1940s, most of the NBA sported Chucks. They remain the best-selling basketball shoes of all time, even though very few people wear them for basketball anymore. (Many teams switched to leather Adidas in the late ‘60s.)

2. Converse previously made rain boots.

The company started in 1908 as a rubber shoe company that produced galoshes.  

3. The All-Star design hasn’t really changed since 1917.

The updated Chuck II is Converse’s first real attempt to update its flagship product since the early 20th century. The company is understandably reticent to shake things up: All-Stars make up the majority of the company’s revenue, and like any classic design, its fans can be die-hards. In the 1990s, when the company tried to introduce All-Stars that were more comfortable and had slightly fewer design inconsistencies, hardcore aficionados rebelled. “They missed the imperfections in the rubber tape that lines the base of the shoe,” according to the Washington Post. The company went back to making a slightly imperfect shoe.

4. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and trainer ...

Chuck Taylor in 1921. Image Credit: North Carolina State University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Taylor was a Converse salesman and former professional basketball player who traveled around the country teaching basketball clinics (and selling shoes) starting in the 1920s. His name was added onto an ankle patch on the sneaker in 1932

5. ... And though he sold a lot of Chucks, he wasn't always a great coach.

Taylor is in large part responsible for the shoe’s popularity with athletes (the company rewarded him with an unlimited expense account), but his training advice wasn’t always the best. As former University of North Carolina player Larry Brown told Spin in an oral history of the shoe:

My greatest memory of Chuck Taylor—probably ’61 or ’62—is that he told Coach [Dean] Smith that he’d make us special weighted shoes in Carolina blue. The idea was that we’d wear the weighted shoes in practice, and then during the games, we’d run faster and jump higher. Well, we tried them for one practice and everyone pulled a hamstring.

6. Converse didn’t intend for their shoes to be punk.

“We always thought of ourselves as an athletic shoe company,” John O’Neil, who oversaw Converse’s marketing from 1983 to 1997, told Spin. “We wanted to sell a wholesome shoe.” The company was still touting its shoes as basketball sneakers as late as 2012, and some of its non-Chucks sneakers still have pro endorsers.

7. The company owns a recording studio.

Finally embracing its role in the music scene, the company launched Rubber Tracks, a Brooklyn-based recording studio where bands can record for free, in 2011.

8. Not all the Ramones were fans. 

Chuck Taylors are associated with punk rockers, especially the Ramones, but not everyone in the band wore them. “Dee Dee and I switched over to the Chuck Taylors because they stopped making [the style of] U.S. Keds and Pro-Keds [that we liked],” Marky Ramone told Spin. “Joey never wore them. He needed a lot of arch support and Chuck Taylors are bad for that.”

9. Chucks were initially only high tops. 

In 1962, Converse rolled out its first oxford Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Previously, it had just been a high-top shoe. Four years later, the company would introduce the first colors other than black and white.

10. Rocky ran in them.

In 1976, All-Stars were still considered a viable athletic shoe. If you look closely at the training montage from Rocky, you’ll see the boxer is wearing Chucks. 

11. Wiz Khalifa loves them. 

The rapper named his record label Taylor Ganag Records, in part due to his appreciation for Chuck Taylors. In 2013, he launched a shoe collection with Converse featuring 12 styles. 

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Adidas, Mari Orr
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Adidas Collaborates With Artists to Create Sneakers for All 50 States
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Iowa
Adidas, Mari Orr

For a recent project from Adidas and Refinery29, artists were given a women’s running shoe to use as their blank canvas. Their only prompt: Design the sneaker to represent one of the American states. The results are as varied and colorful as the nation itself.

As Adweek reports, the initiative, dubbed BOOST the Nation, takes an all-American look at Adidas’s UltraBOOST X footwear line. Refinery29 selected several artists—all women—to put their regional stamp on the plain white shoe. Some have been decorated with state flora. For instance, the Florida sneaker sports a tropical frond and the shoe for North Carolina is embellished with Venus flytraps. Food is also a popular theme: Wisconsin cheese, Maine lobster, and Tennessee barbecue have all been incorporated into sneaker designs.

Each sneaker is one-of-a kind and only available through auction. All proceeds raised will go directly to Women Win, an organization dedicated to bringing sports to adolescent girls around the world. The auction runs through Tuesday, July 11, with current bids ranging from $110 to $2000. Check out the artists’ handiwork that's for sale below.

Sneaker designed to look like a peach.
Georgia

Checkered running shoe.
Indiana

Adidas, Jen Mussari

Yellow running shoe with cracker tag.
Wisconsin

Sneaker designed to look like a mountain.
South Dakota
Adidas, Mari Orr

Sneaker decorated with wheat.
Oklahoma

Adidas, Jen Mussari

Sneaker embellished with fake roses and leaves.
Kentucky

Pink running shoe with lobster claw.
Maine

[h/t Adweek]

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