Smart Textiles and Future Wear

Thursday, April 14, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

When we think of clothing, we usually just think of it as something we wear to provide coverage, convey our sense of style and protect us from the environmental elements.  But, the future of clothing as we know it is about to change in a big way, and smart textiles and future wear are paving the way for this change.  So, what exactly are smart textiles?

Smart textiles are fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer.  Smart textiles can be broken into two different categories: Aesthetic and Performance Enhancing.

Aesthetic examples include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color.  Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound, or heat, and reacting to this input.

Then there are performance enhancing smart textiles which will have a huge impact on the athletic, extreme sports, and military industries.  There are fabrics that help regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance and control muscle vibration – all of which help improve athletic performance.

Other fabrics have been developed for protective clothing to guard against extreme environmental hazards like radiation and the effects of space travel.  The health and beauty industry is also taking advantage of these innovations, which range from drug-releasing medical textiles, to fabric with moisturizer, perfume, and anti-aging properties.

A Canadian lab has tested special fibers that can help make soft, flexible touch screens and batteries woven directly into the fabrics of modern life.  Turning rigid electronic parts into stretchy, smart clothing material has not proven easy.  But early ideas have already hinted at practical uses beyond just wearing glowing “Tron” jumpsuits as fashion accessories. People may swipe a finger across a car’s upholstery to turn down the heat or brush at their coat sleeves to adjust the volume of a connected music player.

The intention is to make the clothing comfortable, and seamlessly blend “hard” gadget functions with “soft” objects while concealing the components of the technology that drives the smart clothing.  New developments in fiber optics have allowed scientists to make new polymer-based smart fibers based on melting the preformed material to pull out a long, thin fiber shape.  Such fibers can conduct electric signals.

The technology of smart clothing may seem imminent, but psychological barriers remain because textile manufacturers are hesitant to work with completely new fibers.  Other challenges also still remain in the creation and development of smart clothing such as: creating the soft textile version of the transistors at the heart of all modern devices.

So the competition is on for the breakthrough design in smart textiles and clothing, and for company’s of the future to create and market extraordinary pieces of smart clothing that act like gadgets but easily fit in with ordinary wardrobes.

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Category: Fashion, Tech and Smart Tech

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