For the fashion lover, the good news is that your clothing is going to get a lot smarter in future! Smart textiles are revolutionising the textile sector, and we’re not far from wearing smart outfits.
We have been traditionally conditioned to the idea that clothing is only something that covers our body, makes us appear stylish and protects us from climatic and environmental factors. Have you every thought of a cloth that can do things on its own?
Thanks to the futuristic smart textiles concept, our future clothes will voluntarily perform a range of tasks. They can converse, convert, transmit energy and even develop and grow on their own. These innovative fabrics are manufactured on state-of-the-art technologies that can deliver real value to the end user.
Project Jacquard is a living example of smart textiles. The project makes use of sophisticated weaving technologies to make smart fabrics and transmute ordinary items like clothing and interior design fabrics into interactive facades. Project Jacquard is bringing designers and developers together to construct complex, networked and touch-sensitive textile products.
Now, lets try to discuss the types of smart textiles. As of now, smart textiles fall into two broader categories: Aesthetic and performance enhancing. Textiles that can brighten on their own or change colour are called aesthetic fabrics. They mostly get their energy from environmental factors like ambiances, temperature, light, sound etc.
The performance enhancing smart fabrics are those manufactured or customised for specific specialised professions like the military, athletics and sports. These fabrics can adjust to your body temperature and muscle movements besides decreasing wind resistance.
But, how are smart textiles manufactured?
Well, smart textiles rely heavily on technology, and designers use design applications in different ways than technology companies do. Since the focus of designers is on creating delightful experiences for the end user, the final products become the favourite of the users.
In smart textiles, the design is prepared first, and the wearable technology is built around it. This seems a very interesting and fascinating approach to me because normally the technology is built first and the product design follows suit.
A lot of companies are already making progress in smart textiles. For example, Italy based company Grado Zero Espace has already embraced the smart textile technology and has even produced prototypes. And then there is the Geneva based fashion designer Ying Gao who is already creating a fusion of urban design, architecture, multimedia and sensory technologies in its clothing.
During the last few years, smart textiles have made impressive progress. My personal opinion is that the Internet of things and development of smart elements and sensory tools have played the role of catalysts in promoting the smart textile concept.
So, what does the future of smart textiles hold in store for us? We can expect a lot of fascinating creations from smart textiles.
Think about the curtain in your home that can change colour and ambiance when the intensity of lighting in the room changes. Or the upholstery or apron that can change shape when subject to certain environmental factors. Or maybe your clothing that can change its colour according to the time of the day or season of the year. Or the cloth that can monitor your health by taking note of your heart rate, temperature, breathing rate and activities.
The future of fashion, interior design and healthcare seems to be very promising, thanks to smart textiles.