In an age of futuristic yearnings, scientists have recognized the benefits of incorporating technology into fabrics as a way to enhance clothing beyond aesthetics to pure functionality.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to jazzing up normal fabrics such as cotton, wool and silk. The new trend in the scientific world is smart textiles, which are fabrics developed
with new technologies in order to provide added value to the wearer.
“What makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow,” said Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, author and researcher on smart textiles.
CuteCircuit, a design label based in London is known as the first fashion label to seamlessly integrate technology and fashion. For its autumn and winter 2014/15 show held during New York Fashion Week, the label unveiled garments with magical displays of their own. The models were able to control their garment’s light display with the swipe of a finger on their smart phones. Displays ranged from simple pulsing lights, to full blown moving images. On permanent display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, is the GalaxyDress. Embroidered with 24,000 full color pixels, it is the largest wearable display in the world.
Not all Smart Textiles are solely focused on appealing visuals. Grado Zero Espace, a leading research, consulting and prototyping organization, has helped to develop an I.O.W (Intelligent Object to Wear) motorbike jacket. This jacket serves as the first portable heating system for motor bikers by using an internal heating mechanism connected to the motorbike. The garment monitors body temperatures in the arms, chest, back and shoulders by using electric heating pads controlled by a computerized microprocessor planted in the lining of the jacket. The jacket will keep bikers warm in the elements when they travel the highways and throughways.
The European project BIOTEX took smart textiles to the next level, offering garments able to monitor biochemical parameters of the wearer. The sensing system consists of miniaturized biosensors in a textile patch with the ability to analyze body fluids such as blood and sweat. If danger signs are detected through the sensors, the garment will alert the owner’s doctor and subsequently prevent major health issues from occurring in the future.
“In the long-term we expect continuous monitoring, made possible with smart textiles, to make a major improvement to the way we approach the treatment of metabolic disorders and leisure,” said Jean Luprano, a researcher at the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Micro-technology and coordinator of the BIOTEX project.
There are numerous companies working to bring this new frontier to the mass market. The possibilities are endless in the field of textile advancement, bringing fashion and technology together in perfect harmony.