Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace. Wearable technology has become a trend now. At the same time, people are becoming conscious about their health and more focused on keeping their immunity high. These wearable techs help them track and monitor their health via their smartphones. However, wearing a chunky gadget on their wrist might look a bit awkward for the fashion-aware. Technology and the textile industry have been trying to find a solution for the same using advanced sensors, electronics and software. In the middle of a pandemic, it does give us hope that the future looks better. In this post, we discuss how smart clothes might be the new future for wearable technology and the textile industry.
Fashion meets Engineering
Gone are the days when wearable tech meant only analog smartwatches. Technology is catching up with fashion. Wearable tech now means smart clothes too. Microsensors embedded in clothes can now connect to smartphones that can help monitor and track body vitals. Since these microsensors are in closer contact with a larger part of our body than the limitations of a smartwatch, they can give us more insight into our health. Smart clothing makers have been trying to figure out ways to make smart clothes less bulky and who knows in the future we might be wearing smart clothes which might look no different than our current clothes.
The ‘Synapse dress’ which debuted in September 2014 is one of the most iconic when it comes to smart clothes.
This sensing dress is powered by Intel Edison microcontroller and is 3D printed in a rubber-like material. It logs a person’s movements and moods for self-learning and lights up when the person wearing the dress feels their personal space is being invaded. This was designed by the electronic wearables artist Anouk Wipprecht. He later designed the Spider dress 2.0 shown below.
The Spider dress 2.0 is a mechatronic dress which has an intel Edison chip embedded in it and uses biosignals and threat detection techniques to defend the personal space of the wearer.
Few smart garments we found interesting
We come across a lot of new innovations in wearable technology. And smart clothes have piqued our curiosity. There are a lot of smart clothes including smart exercise wear, smart underwear, smart swimwear, smart sleepwear, etc which have been brought to life by different companies. They all help the wearers in monitoring and tracking their health. Here are a few of the smart clothes we found interesting:
- Project Jacquard
Google and Levi Strauss have teamed up and come up with a smart jean jacket which is equipped with a small module in the jean’s cuff. It connects to the wearers mobile phone via BlueTooth and can be charged via USB.
- Smart Yoga Pants
Sydney based startup Wearable X has come up with Nadi X pants which come with built-in haptic vibrations that pulse at the hips, knees and ankles helping wearers to move or hold positions while working out. It syncs with smartphones via BlueTooth and has a companion app that provides additional feedback.
- Smart Underwear
A Canadian company called OMsignal has come up with OMbra which can record distances run and other vitals of the body and can also be linked up with mobile applications. Another Canadian company called Myant has created a line of SKIIN smart underwear. These can track different body vitals like heart rates, calories, sleep, temperature, stress levels, steps, etc. A European company is coming up with a bra which can help detect breast cancer with the help of sensors that analyse the electrical and thermal properties of mammary tissues.
- Smart Socks
Siren socks help detect and prevent foot injury in diabetics patients. These socks have microsensors woven into the fabric which can continuously monitor temperature and alert the wearer via text message or mobile application if there is any rise in the temperature (possible inflammation). There are also smart socks created by a company called Sensoria to monitor and track running data, calories, steps, etc.
- Colour changing Garments
Scientists in The University of Central Florida are working on producing user-controlled colour-changing fabrics. These garments will have a micro-wire inserted in each thread and running a current through these wires will raise the temperature which prompts a thermochromic pigment embedded in it to change colour.
We are pretty sure that we are going to see more such innovations in the future. We hope to see more smart clothes which are less expensive, less bulky and which address consumer pain and address value. The current pandemic will also bring to light pain points which we might have been overlooked previously. Who knows, we might see smart clothes which not only helps us track our body vitals. But also, alert us if something goes wrong. They say necessity is the mother of invention. And we have definitely reached a point in history where we need innovative technology to help us. Wearable technology is one of them. It is time for technology and fashion to come together and make that a reality.