Electronic Textiles are Happening
HYDRO_BOT and Steriliser® are being integrated on a production platform and industrial ecology comprising a wide range of sensors and actuators.
Electronic textiles fit into the “wearable revolution” with smart devices monitoring health and physiological parameters, with ability to give early warnings e.g., on heart disease, or nudge the user to a healthier lifestyle (e.g. eating and exercising). As nodes on the internet of things, devices can collect and analyze data for the healthcare system and as such be an important part of the emerging field of “digitized medicine”. So far, wristband devices have become most prevalent, likely because of the more natural fit for the electronics industry to make something “watch like”. However, textiles open many more possibilities, through larger surfaces and since humans are naturally and almost always in contact with a textile (® a high-tech “second-skin” layer with integrated and responsive technologies). Not only does larger contact area creates the possibility for improved sensing, it also gives a increased opportunities for devices to respond and react. This can include electric stimulation, moisturizing of the skin, drying of the skin, dispensing of medication, heating, cooling, pressurizing, disinfecting and more. For example, monitoring and automatic reactions can be life saving for a heart patient. As such, electronic textiles can be part of a continuous care paradigm, as replacement for the current largely reactive care. Potential rewards are big improvements in patient safety, wellbeing, and major cost reduction in the healthcare system.
While medical applications appear to be the most important applications, smart textiles will:
- improve comfort, performance, and safety for users of work and protective clothing, including military closing (monitoring physiological parameters for safety, and actively improving through cooling/heating, moisture removal, disinfection etc. Furthermore, interconnectivity may allow monitoring the status of the workforce and adapt processes and schedules)
- improve comfort, safety and performance of users of sports, outdoor and leisure clothing
- improve biosafety, comfort and energy consumption in cars, homes, offices, public transport etc.
- integrate into more technical applications, like aircon and climatization and climate protection for many kinds of devices and processes (from hearing aids to low energy buildings to military storage)