The world has cottoned on to the textiles revolution at Polytechnic University. 'I've had ironing companies contact me - they are afraid of losing business because of it,' says Hu Jinlian, who heads the Shape Memory Textiles Centre. 'It seems no one else is breaking as much ground in nanotechnology, but these companies send me many e-mails regarding things they have read in the press. Then they sent representatives to Hong Kong to talk to us in person. They weren't very friendly.' Her research can be applied to anything from cosmetics to toys, adhesives, medical devices and consumer products such as spoons and straws. The fabrics are capable of such ground-breaking capabilities as 'bagging recovery' and 'crease retention'. The much-vaunted self-cleaning textiles may also make their debut this year. After three years of research and testing, the work of associate professor John Xin and his assistant, Walid Daoud, is finally set to go commercial thanks to interest ranging from major sports-clothing manufacturers to the military. Once unveiled, it will surely add to the worldwide acclaim they have already enjoyed, with articles on their achievements having appeared from Portugal to Puerto Ri and everywhere in between. 'This invention is going to be used all around the world, and possibly even in space,' says Xin proudly. 'It's a major breakthrough.' When the material is exposed to sunlight, the coating of titanium dioxide - whose particles are about 2,500 times thinner than the width of a human hair - reacts with oxygen and the dirt is broken down into water and carbon dioxide. Then there's Walter - the world's first sweating and moving mannequin - on which these and other products are tested. 'It makes everything you design better than before' is the slogan - and the 'perspiration analysis' Walter offers can be applied to testing for athletes, soldiers, firefighters and astronauts. After charging him up for about 30 minutes, associate professor Fan Jintu can test clothes in any simulated environment he needs, thanks to the moisture-permeable fabric the dummy is made from. 'We're sent samples to test every day now because of Walter,' says the doctor of his Frankenstein-esque creation. 'I spend too much time with him.'