Textile refers to material close to every human being and to which every person has a relationship. It is a natural technology carrier. This means that, with electronics and basing on this, there is always an immense desire to continue improving the applications of these textiles. The evident convergence between electronic components in today’s world and advanced fibers with artificial ones always straddles the sectors of materials science and also digital electronics. The ‘Smart’ Textiles (also under reference of electronic or state e-textiles) fall into this category of intelligent materials that always sense and respond to the prevailing environmental stimuli. Technical textiles, those with practical applications and wearable technology exist as part of this. Within the known specialty of wearable computing, these smart textile applications are under use in medical monitoring of all physiological signals, guided training and rehabilitation of many athletes. It is also essential in assistance to any emergency first-responders, in society and commercial applications, in businesses. Others include material that can sense how much light is under absorption, those that measure pulse and also immune systems. The list goes to include gloves that have microphones sensors existing in mattresses, reinforcing concrete and cooling clothes. The textile industry in the world is changing from the usual, traditional production to additions in value product under development that aims at keeping pace with new advancements.
This is where electronics in many fields including the ipod controls, Keyboards, memory slots and displays are under integration into the clothing.
Technology comes out as one of the forces that will keep evolving all the time. The world is experiencing massive developments in the Smart Textile industry. People are out to make money hence innovations are the order of the day. There are many current innovations under application in today’s world. These represent the relationship and wonders that exist when technology is given a chance in the textile and fashion industry. Nicky Assmann, a textile designer, says:
Clothing can be considered a second skin and by implementing technology in it, you are bringing it into your intimate space. You are not just carrying technology like a laptop or an iPhone, but wearing it constantly.
Melissa Coleman, another designer, says:
Electronic textiles are outgrowing their geeky reputation. The open source hardware movement has allowed for quicker and easier development of electronics and made it accessible to artists and designers. The result is that smart textile applications have become more interesting conceptually and aesthetically.
This implies that technology has taken center stage in this idea of ‘Smart Textiles’. There are many current innovations in place.
There’s a certain aesthetic about them — they have many details and are very systematic, like a grid or a city map.
The circuit dress may appear as just clothing but it also a designed musical instrument. The dress works under the idea of bending of circuits. This calls for deliberately short-circuiting all the electronic musical devices, on the dress, to get unexpected noise. Copper finger plates connect the twelve coils, which are under incorporation into the dress. As the finger go on exploring the dress, composition of music takes place. Two speakers exist on the dress’ front as it runs on batteries.
The dress, however, has its undoing. It weighs 20 pounds, hence posing a challenge to those who may want to use it during performances.One cannot wear it for more than an hour.
This comes in handy for those people who find difficulty in apologizing. This is a device created by Meg Grant. He did take advantage of the ego and pride that most people possess and may find it hard to eat crow. He goes further to explain how to works:
Wear the helmet, select the apology you want to make from a set of pre-defined phrases and then turn the dial to select the intensity of the apology. This changes the first part of the phrase, for instance, from ‘I’m sorry’ to ‘I’m very sorry’ to ‘I’m really very sorry. Select either a male or female voice to and the Apology Helmet is ready to go. Once you have the helmet comfortably on your head, activate it with a switch on the chinstrap. The apology will play when you move your jaw.
It consists of a handmade fabric that senses pressure and also two fabric switches. The pressure sensor reads the jaw movement and then the playback speed slow down if one stops moving. The only disadvantage is that one has to actively participate in the whole process as if apologizing.
Karina van Heck is the person behind this invention. The device allows the one to listen to sounds emanating from their heartbeat or even blood rushing through the veins and eventually remix it. The result is the production of music.
The Body Speaker is worn in close contact with one’s body. It does place sound-capturing membranes on one’s skin and finally directs the synthesized sound signals onto a control system.
Van Heck says:
By hearing the sounds from our own body we become aware of our own existence and the condition and necessities of our body,” she says. “In times of stress we tend not to listen to our bodies quite enough and take it for granted.
Melissa Coleman who is a software engineer did design this. She feels that fabric should always store memories. She went on to create a trench coat, which can read fabric punch cards that emanate from any of its pockets that are electronically enhanced. Coleman says:
Through this piece, I try to make a truce between the analog and digital world. The digital data in my textiles are not only machine-readable; people can also hear them. Charlie is a way to store a person’s life stories. I would have loved to let my grandmother tell me her stories, but she’s too old now. I intend for this coat to become an heirloom.
Smart Textiles have a bright future. Under the boost of technological advancement and extensive research that is always conducted, there will be more developments. Projections and predictions are already in the rise due to the existing demand for simpler lives.
Technology could deliver medical benefits
The skin is a sensitive organ. People value it and cannot allow any damages to occur on it. The Marketing Manager for Deralu Investments, Mr. John Shysehu says:
Conceptually the technology could deliver medical benefits, but we are not prepared to deal with the legislation. It’s not our market. The potential applications for textiles impregnated with substances for wound care or the reduction of scar tissue are already being developed within the medical industry.
The Schoeller technology comes to anchors any negatively-charged donor skin layer to an eligible fabric. A positively-charged tint emulsion containing the available, active ingredient is then applied and kept in the fabric. Triggered by the warmth, vibration and perspiration, the active ingredient gets released onto the skin. The fabric can then easily be reloaded again with the most active ingredient by use of a particular rinse always in a domestic washing machine.
The only disadvantage that this technology may have will be muscle cramps.
Aloe vera is being added to fabric to make it feel softer.Image: iStockphoto
Smart fabrics do not work only to keep our temperature balance. Fabrics are put under treatment with all sorts of chemicals. A good example is the odor eaters. Campbell, a designer, says:
With thermal underwear, users might be wearing it for several days straight, and odor can be a problem. You can add anti-bacterial treatments but they tend to wash out. By adding silver to the composition of the fabric, you get the same effect, but it's permanent. Relegating body odor to the history books is just the tip of where fabrics are heading in the beauty stakes.
Microencapsulation technology, which allows a whole swathe of substances including aloe Vera, vitamins or insect repellents to be added to the fabric, is creating endless possibilities.
Mothers all over the world can protect their children against chaffing by using dresses that have aloe Vera in them. Campbell goes on to say:
I'd be very surprised that if in about six months almost every textile we wear doesn't have something added to it, especially in sleepwear. If you could make yourself more fertile and younger while you slept, you'd sell out of that product. We had a client that wanted to do a Viagra underpant. We said no, but anything is possible.
In general, The Smart Textiles have several advantages. These include provision of a convenient and comfortable climate. In cases where the climates are considered extreme, such as in high altitudes, they are always under modification to provide cover. They also provide a safe job environment. These include protection from high voltage, radiations, chemical & biological toxins. In Profession, its tools and devices help in the work. Such examples are communication devices and recording devices which are integrated to textiles.