Smart fabrics are textiles that have been developed
with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer. This
would include fabrics that enable digital components (including small
computers), and electronics to be embedded in them.
The field of e-textiles/smart fabrics can be
divided into two main categories:
E-textiles with classical electronic devices
such as conductors, integrated circuits, LEDs, and conventional
batteries embedded into garments.
E-textiles with electronics integrated directly
into the textile substrates. This can include either passive
electronics such as conductors and resistors or active components like
transistors, diodes, and solar cells.
Most research and commercial e-textile projects are
hybrids where electronic components embedded in the textile are
connected to classical electronic devices or components. Some examples
are touch buttons that are constructed completely in textile forms by
using conducting textile weaves, which are then connected to devices
such as music players or LEDs that are mounted on woven conducting fiber
networks to form displays.
Printed sensors for both physiological and
environmental monitoring have been integrated into textiles including
cotton, Gore-Tex, and neoprene.
Relevant terms include smart garments, E-textiles,
smart clothing, electronic textiles, smart textiles, or smart fabrics.
Smart fabrics have various abilities and benefits.
Some may be able to communicate, transform, conduct energy, run apps,
Smart textiles can be described as aesthetic or
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, 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
(maybe they can contain an app that will help you navigate yourself to
the fountain of youth).
Many smart clothing, wearable technology, and
wearable computing projects involve the use of e-textiles.
Electronic textiles are distinct from
wearable computing because emphasis is placed on the seamless
integration of textiles with electronic elements like microcontrollers,
sensors, and actuators. Furthermore, e-textiles does not actually have
to be wearable. For instance, e-textiles are also found in interior
The related field of fibretronics explores
how electronic and computational functionality can be integrated into
Smart fabrics is a field that is rapidly
progressing. It is very possible that new creations have been
developed since the time you started to read this page. In fact,
this page is potentially outdated already… Fabric development and
technology are moving very fast. It is a very exciting time for
the apparel industry. Smart fabrics and wearable technology are
here to stay. Apparel Search is very much interested in seeing how
this sector of the industry evolves.
about wearable technology.
You may want to read about the Google
Jacquard Project on the Fashion Blog. It would also be a good
idea to view the
wearable tech blog posts. If you enjoy the subject, reading
electronic paper & e-ink would not be a bad idea either.
about the textile industry here on Apparel Search.