Smart textiles are fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer. Smart textiles have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow.
Smart Textiles works primarily within three focus areas
- Health and Medicine, including Sports and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Sustainable Textiles
- Architecture and Interiors
Smart textiles can be broken into 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 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. 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 is creating clothing that combines urban design, architecture and multimedia, and uses sensory technologies to make garments more interactive.
- CuteCircuit, a London based design duo is taking their smart textiles and technology to the runway, as they showed a collection at New York Fashion Week where the models controlled what their dresses looked like on the runway through their mobile phones.
- There’s even a company called BioCouture who is focused on bringing living and bio-based materials to fashion, sportswear and luxury brands. In essence, they are literally growing clothes from microorganisms like cellulose, fungi and algae!