We all know what is meant by ‘wearable’ tech: smartwatches, heart monitors, smart clothes and e-textiles – a whole world of gadgets. But the next stage in wearable technology will see the smart functionality moving from your wrist to your sleeve or even your back. Because the future of wearable smart technology is in the clothes themselves. Here’s why:
It will mean truly fast fashion
With smart wearables, you’ll be able to change the colour of your clothes on demand. Fabrics that react to heat, light or moisture have existed for some time, but researchers are now developing active rather than passive ways to change the colour of your clothes.
This can be done via a smart garment fabric that is a copper wire covered by a protective layer of polymer. This layer is impregnated with pigments of the type used in current colour-changing shirts.
The difference is that the user changes the temperature of the pigment via the wire, thus changing its colour.
Smart clothes will open up a new world of design
As well as colour changes, you can have clothing that has lit patterns. Fibre Optic strands included in clothes mean the designer or wearer can switch up the appearance of garments at the click of a button – or an app.
The best bit is that light-up clothes are made from OLEDs that are so small you can’t tell they are there until they light up.
It’s the next evolution for smart fitness tech
To fully understand the behaviour of your body while exercising, the more comprehensive your map of sensors, the more information you’ll have. By integrating them into your sports clothes, you naturally achieve this.
Motion sensors embedded in shoe soles or shirts, and powered by small watch batteries or even by the motion of the body will mean you can get a detailed analysis of your body’s reaction to exercise.
You will be your own charger
Ceramic plate generators are being developed that can be part of your e-textile smart clothes. The idea is that one side is exposed to your warm body, while the other is exposed to the cooler air.
The heat differential moves electrons in a semiconductor material towards the cool side. This creates a voltage.
These thermoelectric technologies are not yet efficient to create enough power to charge your smartphone or watch, but with greater efficiency, that dreaded moment when your battery dies could become a thing of the past.
A look at the big businesses making a move
Multiple businesses are working to create and offer a range of smart wearables and garments to their customers, often combining these sensors and electronics together.
High-tech jacket from Google and Levi Strauss
These two major brands have paired up to create an e-textile jacket including a module in the cuff, that has the ability to connect to a phone. The product utilises Project Jacquard technology to allow access to remote control options by a simple swipe, touch or tap of the hand.
One single gesture can tell a phone to take a picture, making the selfie phenomenon easy and quick. The jacket is also paired with Google Assistant, meaning you can listen to the weather or news.
Smart yoga pants
Wearable X has developed some smart yoga pants that encourage people to correctly perform certain exercises. This works by using slight vibrations.
They also come with a module that can connect to a smartphone, allowing a person to follow audio instructions or edit vibration intensities.
Hexoskin smart shirts
These fantastic shirts are capable of monitoring activity intensity, heart rate, breathing and sleep, just to name a few things. This data is then transmitted to a chosen smart device, so the wearer can keep track.
These shirts are currently being used by researchers around the world to assist in development and training procedures.
Tom Brady and Under Armour sleepwear brand
In these new pyjamas, there are biometric particles designed to absorb any radiation the body has produced. It is then reflected back as infrared energy which has been proven to help with the regeneration of muscles and joints, and the regrowth of cells.
Siren smart socks
Smart clothes are also helping much more serious conditions, such as diabetes. Diabetes patients have a higher risk of suffering from foot ulcers, which if left untreated, can result in amputations.
These smart socks are embedded with microsensors capable of measuring the temperature of the foot, so people are warned about any inflammation as fast as possible.
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