NAO | Knitting And Design Go Virtual


The textile industry is changing. Enter NAO Virtual Knitting Machine, a customisable, virtual experience using artificial intelligence. With NAO’s virtual loom, design expands, reconfigures and is reborn into the future. An intimate, carefully curated experience, it’s time to truly create clothes for YOU.


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NAO Virtual Knitting Machine is innovation at its most exciting. Created by Shanghai VSK in 2019, the process involves artificial intelligence presenting fabric structures. The technology creates beyond our wildest imagination, realising 100 fabric structures per second on a single computer. NAO’s invention perfectly inspires human creativity, in harmony with AI possibilities to form a “human machine” collaboration.

The virtual process opens endless customisation possibilities. The Knitting machine has also created NAO textiles, a range of textiles fully designed by AI. The team behind the range carefully chose appealing, unique, and thoughtful constructions to help elevate production developments. It’s focus is to inspire, elevate and transform design.


“The answers were already in front of our eyes. Knitting machines are a fascinating technology. It was up to us to figure out how to elevate this technology to be fitted for the new era”





NAO is a virtual knitting machine developed by Shanghai VSK in 2019. For VSK, innovation is created through an unconventional approach. Yet, the team thought back to tradition for their design, as they said: “Yet, sometimes great inventions come from the simplest thoughts.”

Each component of the traditional knitting machine was taken apart and reconstructed to form a new creation. Using 3D moulding and animation, the machine was painstakingly perfected and brought to life in virtual reality. An independently developed artificial intelligence custom algorithm runs NAO in virtual reality with manual input as well as in completely automatic mode. The machine is a protector of conception, trying to honour the various new textile ideas that are discarded due to the cost of knitting out the samples.

The virtual design also ensures an absence of waste. Globally, 92 million tons of textile waste are generated per year. The NAO system has the potential to reduce waste in the first and second rounds of fabric production. It allows the user to check the structure of the fabric virtually, allowing cautious planning before creating the physical piece.


“Thinking in an unconventional way is at the heart of our philosophy. There is no point in thinking in a traditional way to create something new. Yet, sometimes great inventions come from the simplest thoughts.”



NAO is expanding its field to NFTs (Non-Fungible Token) and will be the first project in the world to provide traceable intellectual property protection to designers and brands that design their knitted structures and NAO textiles.

Alongside virtual fabrics, NAO also creates virtual fashion designs and renderings. These are to be used by designers or as part of virtual fashion showcases. NAO is looking to innovate in the virtual fashion realm by creating realistic-looking fabric and garment draping as well as overall movement.



NAO has recently completed a collaboration with ADIDAS at their sustainability workshop. The NAO team introduced their new technology, and customers used the NAO technology to design their own clothing.

The workshop included on-site tailors, allowing customers to customise their new garments. The process was easy, fast, and incredibly popular. Due to the brilliant response to the ground-breaking technology, ADIDAS introduced new activations in four of their flagship stores.

The potential of NAO’s technology is not only exciting from an interactive perspective, truly allowing us to witness and take part in making our own clothes, but it is also helping the environment. NAO ensures transparent and ethical practices throughout its supply chain. Priority is given to renewable materials and low-energy equipment. For NAO it isn’t just about the aesthetics of their work. It is about protecting the local environment.


 +  Words:
Emily Fromant
Luxiders Magazine