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Smart Textiles

Smart clothing is a smart system capable of sensing and communicating with environmental and the wearers conditions and stimuli. Stimuli and responses can be in electrical, thermal, mechanical, chemical, magnetic, or other forms

(G tech smart fabric wireless keyboard

Stylish cool commwear jacket from Kjus, 2009)

Soft touch light dimmers turn high tech into high touch, 2007)


In smart textiles and clothing, the extent of intelligence can be divided into : Passive smart, active smart, very smart systems


A smart clothing system comprises: Interfaces Communication components, Data management components Energy management components, and

Integrated circuits

Interface Technologies An interface is a medium for transacting information between the wearer and devices or the environment. Input and output interfaces transfer information between the wearer and devices or the environment.

Input Interfaces

Conductivity in textiles is essential to smart clothing since electrical conductivity provides pathways to carry information or energy for various functions.
Conductivity in textiles can be imparted at various textile stages. Conductive polymers, fibers, yarns, fabrics, embroidery, and finishing are all vital to construct smart clothes Textile-based buttons and keyboards are developed based on various mechanisms. The SOFT switch Textile-based buttons and keyboards are developed based on various mechanisms. The SOFT switch is an example of pressure-sensitive textile material

Switch fabric

Textile-based keypad

ECG shirt with embroidered electrodes


An output interface is a medium by which information is presented to the wearer. Visual, auditory, and tactile interfaces are major means to transmit information from wearable systems to human. Visual Interfaces Auditory Interfaces Vibration (Tactile) Interface

COMMUNICATION Communication refers to information and power transfer between the components of smart clothes.
Textile-based transmission lines

Data Management Data management relates to memory, computation, and data processing. Electronic components are still used for those tasks since no textile material can perform them yet Energy Management The major problem of wearable electronics is that conventional power supply is bulky, heavy, and rigid, with a short lifetime. Usually the biggest and heaviest part of a wearable device is the energy supply and storage. Power supply must be flexible and light enough to be incorporated into clothing without being a burden to the wearer. Supply should last long and recharge easily on the move, or use alternative energy sources that do not need recharging

Integrated Circuits

Integrated circuits are made out of semiconductor materials, with silicon as the most common for fabrication
Skin temperature



Skin blood flow

Sadness Fear surprise

Skin resistant

Heart care

Actuatin g

New uses for smart textiles are being generated all the time as the technology becomes more accessible :-

Body Monitoring Body Signals Body Movements

Diagram of a jogging wear

Used to monitor vital signs, transmit this data and promote well-being (Hibbert, 2004, p.103). Examples:
Vivo Metrics Life Shirt pyjamas Mamagoose baby

This is when smart fabrics have micro-electronics built into the structure. Wearable electronics are often controlled by soft switches which are sewn into products using printing, coating and embroidery.

Switches are washable and durable.

It will eventually be incorporated into interior textiles to control lighting, appliances, TVs and stereos

The factors that make the electro-textile interface difficult are: Fabric is very flexible, whereas most electronic components are solid. Parts of electronic products are made of inorganic materials or metals including semiconductors. Electronic parts have the characteristics of conductor or semiconductor and are activated by electric current flowing from the power source Air tightness and water resistivity. The material of most electronic apparatus itself does not absorb liquid, but the electrical system could be damaged by water once it is integrated to printed circuit board (PCB). On the other hand, clothing is constantly in contact with liquid like water because it not only has to absorb and discharge sweat but also has to be washed.