Smart Fabrics and How Can They Make Your Life Smarter?
[Aug, 2 2021: Bhavna Veerwani]
Though wearing an Iron-Man like suit might be a distant dream, you can still explore how smart fabrics are revolutionizing lives and lifestyle.
Wearables like smart watches, smart shoes, wearable cameras, fitness trackers and smart glasses have been well received by users till now. Soon, smart interactive fabrics will evolve our clothing into the most intimate human-computer interface. There are already "smart clothes" launched by brands, which are creating a buzz among tech-savvy consumers.
Let us sail you through the present and the future of smart fabrics, who knows you might get an urge to upgrade your wardrobe into a smart one...!
What are smart fabrics?
Fabric which has an embedded digital component or a sensor (capable of enhancing its functionality) is called a smart fabric. Using interactive fabric technology these smart textiles are able to communicate information like the body’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and wearer’s location.
What purpose will smart clothes serve?
Smart clothes can meet either of your expectations.
For an Aesthetic Appeal
Fabrics which change color indicating a change in body heat are becoming more and more popular among fashion designers and enthusiasts. Sounds cool, doesn't it? These aesthetic smart textiles are capable of enhancing the multisensorial experience of the wearer.
For Improving Performance
The vital biometric information sensed by the smart fabric can be used for enhancing lifestyle and fitness, monitoring health and medical conditions and improving athletic performance. You can also access your smartphones, screen calls, check notifications by just a gentle touch on the smart fabric you are wearing.
How to Choose Your Smart Fabric
Smart fabric is a revolutionary concept which is capable of fitting into everyone’s needs and requirements. Here's how.
For Those With Medical Concerns
Though at its budding stage, smart fabric technology has proved itself to be a reliable tool for those with medical concerns and for those seeking healthcare options.
The real-time data sensed by the smart fabric is capable of providing predictive analysis to create a robust monitoring system. One such example is the Hexoskin's smart shirt which offer cardiac and activity monitoring of the wearer.
Companies like Siren have launched smart socks which can detect and prevent foot injuries in diabetic patients.
For Yoga Lovers
To reap the benefits of yoga, it is important to perform every posture and move accurately. The Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants have sensors which would guide your moves till you acquire the right pose. The associated app Pulse has a series of yoga tutorials which can be really helpful for beginners.
For Athletes and Workout Lovers
Athletes can now monitor and improve their performance by keeping a check on minute biophysical details recorded by the fabric itself. Though the future fabric technology looks very empowering, there are already smart clothes which are becoming popular among athletes and fitness freaks.
Under Armour Athlete Recovery Sleepwear is one such example, which uses the law of energy conservation. The emitted body heat is absorbed by the fabric and reflected back to the body in the form of low infrared rays (which have healing properties). This means muscle tears after an intense workout can be healed by simply wearing this smart sleepwear. Interesting, isn’t it?
Athos Core is another great option for workout lovers. The sensors track body movements precisely and send signals to the attached electronic gadget (the "core"). You can receive all the feedback via the associated app Athos. The attire is smart enough to indicate the amount of stress exerted on the targeted muscle. Also, it would give an overall feedback of your workout performance plus notify if you did any of the exercise incorrectly.
The sport industry is desperately accommodating smart fabrics as sportswear. The Sensoria Smart socks is another example that deploys interactive fabric technology to monitor performance.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, also known as crib death or cot death) is a cause of concern for parents. There are wearable technologies already in the market to monitor the sleep patterns and oxygen levels of the baby.
Now, smart fabrics like the Owlet Smart Sock 2 and the Neopenda’s smart hat integrated with sensors are becoming more popular among parents because of their precise measurement of the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels.
The Future of Smart Fabrics
The smart textile industry is evolving at full throttle. And it has every potential to turn your imaginations into reality. Following are some of the recent developments in this field, to give you an idea of what the future has got in store for you.
Imagine charging your gadgets through electricity generated by your own physical movements. Curious? Researchers at Vanderbilt University have created a super thin electronic device which when embedded in a fabric, can convert the mechanical energy generated by human movements into electrical energy.
Soon you will be able to answer calls, view notifications, play your favorite songs with just a simple touch on your smart shirt or jacket. This would be made possible by integrating optical fiber in the fabric which would aid data transmission.
Functional fabrics will offer incredible healthcare options. For example, functional treatment stimulation (FTS), through smart fabrics will help in treating patients with paralysis. The fabrics will be able to deliver low-intensity electrical pulses capable of stimulating paralyzed muscles improving motor function.
Edema ApS is working on creating a washable stocking which would monitor symptoms to prevent congestive heart failure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. This stocking is already under clinical trials for patients suffering from edema (swelling in legs due to fluid accumulation).
Will Smart Fabrics Become a Part of Our Everyday Life?
It is a matter of time that smart fabrics will permeate deep into our society redefining our lifestyles. Researchers are trying their best to make smart clothes more functional by overcoming their limitations. Soon there will be smart fabrics with unbelievable efficiency and most importantly as comfortable (or even more) as our conventional clothing.
The endless applications promised by the future fabric industry will not only make our lives convenient but would make it crazily interesting.
For more technology news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.
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