Why strap on a fitness tracker when you can just put on a shirt? We’re getting even closer to smart garments.
The concept of smart clothing is appealing. Instead of strapping something to your wrist or sticking a patch on your skin, you just put on a garment that has the sensors built in. The problem has been that the sensors and electrical connections and controllers all have to be made separately and then attached to the fabric somehow. Researchers have made conductive threads before, but they only solve part of the problem. A team led by University of Cambridge scientists have created stretchable yarns that can stand up to industrial weaving processes. The key is that these yarns are not just conductive, but can also be used to fabricate connected sensors, digital storage, and displays. They can even incorporate energy harvesting components to provide their own power. In addition to making smart shirts, this technology could also be used to create television displays that roll up and garments that can help treat disease in addition to detecting it.
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