21/10/2019 – Smart textiles — auf Deutsch lesen
A wearable future
Smart clothing makes everyday life easier, enables recognition of dangers, more effective sports training and much more.
Shirts measuring your heart rate and trousers warming up at the push of a button – the possibilities smart clothing opens up are almost endless. Smart clothing can offer huge benefits especially in health and sport, such as increasing quality of life, detecting dangers and minimising risk. In the US, smart clothing has already found its way into everyday life. The offering is broad and ranges from winter jackets with solar panels to tracking shoes and smart socks. The apparel is equipped with electronic functionality and devices. What makes them special is that the electronics are invisible from the outside. How? Because the wires, etc. are woven into the textiles themselves. CorpoTex, an expert in textile finishing, production and advertising, has recognised the benefits of smart clothing.
Sören Schneider, CEO of CorpoTex GmbH:
“Smart clothing will soon revolutionise the German textiles market as well. So far, customers have used tracking systems and similar products as ‘wearables’ on their arms or heads. In the future, electronics will increasingly be integrated into the clothes themselves. This will open up a broad choice of applications. We could, for example, use sensors to measure body and environmental data. This way, users can analyse their health status and track their whereabouts.”
Advantages of smart clothing
Generally speaking, the benefits of smart clothing revolve around entertainment and lifestyle, enhancing sports performance and, of course, healthcare. The Fraunhofer ISC is currently developing stretch and pressure sensors based on extremely elastic elastomers (dielectric elastomer sensors, DES) for use in smart textiles. After all, smart functionality in textiles requires flexible and robust functional elements. Such smart textiles can be used for monitoring posture, for ambient assisted living (independent living in old age and with chronic disease), for sport and many other applications.
“Smart clothing is no science-fiction scenario, it’s a real revolution that will make everyday life noticeably easier. But there is one caveat: we have to lift development to a new level since most technology cannot yet be invisibly integrated in the apparel. Possibilities to integrate single electronic components in special synthetic fibres do exist, but we’re yet to achieve this with all components. Our requirements are very complex – after all, clothing must be both visually pleasing as well as stretchy and durable. It must also withstand washing and we need uninterrupted energy supply. It will probably take us a few years to figure out all those things, but our developments are advancing every day and are causing a paradigm shift,” Sören Schneider explains.