Smart textiles can be defined as textiles that are able to sense and respond to changes in their environment. They may be divided into two classes: passive and active smart textiles. Smart textiles have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot. That includes communicating, transforming, direct energy and above all, even grow.
Smart Textiles work primarily within three focus areas:
- Health and Medicine, including Sports and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Sustainable Textiles
- Architecture and Interiors
Smart textiles make two different categories: Aesthetic and Performance Enhancing.
Aesthetic examples include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color. Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment. For instance through vibrations, sound or heat, therefore reacting to this input.
Performance enhancing smart textiles 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. In other words – improve athletic performance.
Other fabrics are for protection. Therefore they guard against extreme environmental dangers. That includes radiation and the effects of space travel. Health and beauty industries are also taking advantage of these innovations. For instance, it ranges from drug-releasing medical textiles, in addition to fabric with moisturizer, perfume, and anti-aging properties. Just think of all the possibilities!
The listing of companies & designers who already use these solutions:
- Grado Zero Espace is an Italian based company who is doing some amazing things with textile technology and product design.
- Ying Gao, a fashion designer based in Geneva. They create clothing that combines urban design, architecture, and multimedia. They do that using sensory technologies to make garments more interactive.
- CuteCircuit, a London based design duo, is taking their smart textiles and technology to the runway. At New York Fashion Week they showed a collection, where the models controlled what their dresses looked like through their mobile phones.
- In addition, there’s even a company called BioCouture. Like the name says, they focused on bringing living and bio-based materials to fashion, sportswear and luxury brands. In other words, they are literally growing clothes from microorganisms like cellulose, fungi, and algae!