What is Smart Textiles | List of Technologies Involved in Smart Textiles

What is Smart Textiles?
There are various names of smart textiles. E-textile is the most popular name of this kind of textile. It is also called smart clothing, smart garments, electronic textiles, intelligent textiles etc. Smart textiles are versatile and offer new ways to look at textile and technology. It is a branch of technical textile. Fabrics of smart textile are developed and manufactured to include technologies that provide the wearer with increased functionality. Smart textile may revolutionary change is that they have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow.

Smart textiles
Figure: Smart textiles

Smart textile can be classified into two categories. One is aesthetic and another is performance enhancing. Aesthetic examples include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color. Some fabrics can gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound or heat, reacting to this input. On the other hand, performance enhancing smart textiles, which will have a huge impact on the athletic, extreme sports sector and military industries. It is even possible to maintain constant body temperature using phase- change technology. Smart textile also widely used as a 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. Smart clothing serves an important role in remote monitoring of chronically ill patients or those undergoing rehabilitation. It also promotes the concept of preventative healthcare. Now a days, smart textile are also used for fashion purposes.

Some examples of smart textiles:

1. Electro Textiles – can take the form of electronic stimulants, such as keyboards, functional keys for MP3 players (Elek Tex & Peratech), biosensors to monitor heartbeats (Peratech & Sensatex), etc. All of those textiles are machine washable, but some may then have a limited life performance. Fibre-optic screens on clothing and bags can offer good graphic displays and connect to the Internet via Bluetooth technology. Other textiles include curtains that light up in the dark, purses that change pattern when a mobile phone rings and gloves with Bluetooth technology having built-in headsets.

2. Body-Enhancing Textiles – can supply the wearer with microencapsulated vitamins and microencapsulated protection such as sunscreen, repellents etc.

3. Memory Textiles – shape memory alloys and polymers can change shape using temperature sensitive foam in response to temperature or weight shifts so moulding to the body then return to the original position once pressure and heat have been removed.

Driven by consumer demand for a unique appearance, increased performance and multi- functionality of woven textiles, smart textile have become an active area of current research. Applications of smart textile include:

  • Interactive clothing for sports, hazardous occupations and military personnel;
  • Industrial textiles with integrated sensors for monitoring or signage to display information;
  • Smart textile includes healthcare and space technology applications;
  • Fashion accessories and apparel with a unique and variable appearance.

List of Technologies Involved in Smart Textiles:
Various technologies are used in smart textile. Common and important technologies names are given below.

  1. Fiber optics
  2. Phase change materials
  3. Nanotechnologies for fiber and fabric coating
  4. Thermo chromic materials
  5. Organic or plastic electronics
  6. Shape memory alloys and polymers
  7. Conductive fibers and yarns – metals, wires and conductive polymers
  8. Quantum tunneling composites for switching devices
  9. Bio materials
  10. Piezoelectric resistance
  11. Light-emitting polymers and diodes
  12. Photo voltaic and solar cells
  13. Photo luminescence
  14. Plasma technologies
  15. Photo chromic materials
  16. Holography
  17. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags
  18. Global positioning and wireless communications
  19. Micro-electronic mechanical systems (MEMS)
  20. Micro encapsulation for therapy delivery

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