Soft circuits and sensors.
Hannah Perner-Wilson, also known online as Plusea, researches soft circuits and sensors at the MIT Media Lab. Soft circuits or soft electronics are pretty much what they sound like; they’re electronics you can bend, stretch, and squish. Everyone is familiar with electronics that come in hard plastic or metal boxes. Soft electronics break free of rigid boxes and can be incorporated into clothing, bags, or anywhere else that has to be flexible. This allows electronics to be used in entirely new ways. Imagine a purse that knows it’s open or a jacket that knows when it’s cold.
Fortunately for all of us who aren’t at MIT, Hannah generously provides a whole lot of information online. She has 37 projects on Instructables for anyone who wants to try some soft circuits and sensors themselves. If you want a little more help, she sells kits of a few projects through Makers Market. These sensors can be incorporated into your own electronic projects. If you’re really brave, you could try using them with Arduino, a type of open source hardware.