The integration of science and technology into textiles has given birth to a new range of textiles and clothing known as smart textiles and interactive clothing. According to industry representatives, smart textiles and interactive apparels will be one of the main trends for the future.
The research report ‘Technology and Innovation Futures: UK Growth Opportunities for the 2020s-2012 Refresh’ released by Government of UK, states that smart and interactive textiles have a potential key market in the clothing and fashion industry since it can sense electrical, thermal, chemical, magnetic or other stimuli in the environment and adapt or respond to them using functionalities integrated into the textile’s structure.
In an interview with fibre2fashion, Mr. David Lussey, CTO and founder of Peratect – England-based inventor of Quantum Tunnelling Composite Technology (QTC), said, “Smart textiles is the last piece in the jigsaw – the interface between the digital world of the electronic circuit and the analogue world of the user and we are collaborating with the London College of Fashion on a project to explore the needs base and applications for wearable technology.”
“We are investigating the social acceptability of QTC devices as it became evident at the 2013 Smart Fabric event in San Francisco that a growing number of such devices are becoming available for integration into clothing or body worn artefacts,” he mentions.
Researchers from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence of Electromaterials Science (ACES) at University of Wollongong have recently developed a strong and flexible yarn that conducts and stores electricity which could be used to create wearable medical devices and smart clothes.
Prof. Gordon Wallace, ACES executive research director, said in a statement, “Hundreds of layers of nanotubes, which are coated with small molecules of plastic, were woven together with a thin metal wire. This is then spun into a yarn in a similar way to how you would spin wool into thread.”
Phronetic Technologies, a prenatal technology startup formed to commercialize wearable computing solutions, recently announced that it is one step closer to bringing the first prenatal smart wearable StimElation to the market.
“We believe that StimElation will solve four distinct problems that expecting parents encounter during maternity,” Dana Hawes, founder and CEO of Phronetic Technologies, said in a statement.
Hong Kong-based Stretchline Group, one of the leading manufacturers of narrow fabrics, launched a new quality of elastic ‘FiT-U’ where stretchability and power is engineered to suit the contours of the wearer’s body.
Mr. Timothy Speldewinde, managing director of Strechline Group – Hong Kong-based manufacturer of narrow fabrics, says, “Smart textiles are used to create fabrics and garments that are able to report data or adapt to different situations.”
“By definition, smart textiles have digital components embedded in them. It is basically a wearable technology that includes elements like sensors, actuators and data processes that read and respond,” he adds.
According to Mr. Lussey, small circuits can be printed onto to textiles to provide clothing that monitors the wearer for signs of illness, fatigue or exposure to dangerous chemicals. It can be tuned to suit the application from a simple on/off switch through to making a touch pad on the sleeve of a garment as the effect can be created on a range of substrates including textiles.
“Smart Textiles will be one of the main trends in textile and garment industry for the future,” concludes Mr. Miguel Mendes, spokesperson of A. Sampaio – a Portugal-based manufacturer of knitted fabrics.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India