Artificial Intelligence

Made by AI: how technology has learnt to knit

Wool reels are pictured at the Adidas Knit for You store in Berlin, Germany March 7, 2017. Picture taken March 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch - RC1BF1D2E130

Making your own clothes will soon be a lot easier. Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Artificial Intelligence?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Artificial Intelligence is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Artificial Intelligence

The growing popularity of 3D printing machines and companies like Thingiverse and Shapeways have given previously unimaginable powers to makers, enabling them to create everything from cosplay accessories to replacement parts. But even though 3D printing has launched a new world of customized objects, most of us are still buying clothes off the rack. Now researchers at MIT are working on software that will allow anyone to customize or design their own knitwear, even if they have never picked up a ball of yarn.

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), led by computer scientist Alexandre Kaspar, today released two new papers describing the software. One is about a system called InverseKnit that automatically creates patterns from photos of knitted items. The other introduces new design software, called CADKnit, that allows people with no knitting or design experience to quickly customize templates, adjusting the size, final shape and decorative details (like the gloves shown below).

The final patterns can be used with a knitting machine, which has been available to home knitters for years, but still require a fair amount of technical knowledge in order to design patterns for.

Gloves made using CADknit Image: MIT

Both CADKnit and InverseKnit want to make designing and making machine-knitted garments as accessible as 3D printing is now. Once the software is commercialized, Kaspar envisions “knitting as a service” for consumers who want to order customized garments. It also can enable clothing designers to spend less time learning how to write knitwear patterns for machines and reduce waste in the prototyping and manufacturing process. Another target audience for the software are hand-knitters who want to try a new way of working with yarn.

Have you read?

“If you think about it like 3D printing, a lot of people have been using 3D printers or hacking 3D printers, so they are great potential users for our system, because they can do that with knitting,” says Kaspar.

Loading...

One potential partner for CADKnit and InverseKnit is Kniterate, a company that makes a digital knitting machine for hobbyists, maker spaces and small businesses. Kaspar says he has been talking to Kniterate’s team about making knitwear customization more accessible.

CADKnit combines 2D images with CAD (computer-aided design) and photo-editing software to create customizable templates. It was tested with knitting newbies, who, despite having little machine knitting experience, were still able to create relatively complex garments, like gloves, and effects, including lace motifs and color patterns.

To develop InverseKnit, researchers first created a data set of knitting patterns with matching images that were used to train a deep neural network to generate machine knitting patterns. The team says that during InverseKnit’s testing, the system produced accurate instructions 94% of the time. There is still work to do before InverseKnit can be commercialized. For example, the machine was tested using one specific type of acrylic yarn, so it needs to be trained to work with other fibers.

“3D printing took a while before people were comfortable enough to think they could do something with it,” says Kaspar. “It will be the same thing with what we do.”

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Artificial IntelligenceAdvanced ManufacturingFourth Industrial Revolution
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

AI and cyber, cancer-care, trade tech, and green skills: Top weekend reads on Agenda

Gayle Markovitz

March 1, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum