Some of the initial buzz has waned, but large companies are investing heavily in the technology and giving us a glimpse of what may be ahead.
In this article, we will highlight specific smart-clothing and e-textile projects that companies have announced and recap some research efforts that show different options being explored. On pg. 20, Ray Greenwood, high-precision screen printing and production technology consultant, summarizes the three major levels of research and development projects he believes are underway.
More Types of Products
Products being fashioned with different forms of e-textiles today include ski clothing, jean jackets, gloves, yoga pants, sports footwear, sports bras, underwear, socks, uniforms, infant wear, gaming shirts, and hospital pajamas. E-textile products with built-in sensors might also be useful for mattress pads, fitness mats, parachute fabrics, sleeping bags, fire protection gear, automotive upholstery, airplane seats, and more.
Ralph Lauren crafted a heated parka for the 2018 US Winter Olympics team.
Two global companies used the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea to showcase what’s possible when garments include printed electronics. For the parade uniforms worn by the US Winter Olympics Team during the opening and closing ceremonies, Ralph Lauren designed a limited-edition parka and bomber jacket that includes an integrated heating system made from conductive inks printed in the shape of an American flag and bonded to the interior of the jackets. The printed conductive inks are flexible and stretchable, and connect to a battery pack with three heat settings. The system has water-repellant properties and can supply 11 hours of heating time at full charge.
Prior to the Olympics, members of the Dutch short-track skating team used a Samsung custom-made suit in training that measured the skater’s precise body posture to calculate the distance between their hips and the ice. This data was sent to coach Jeroen Otter via a smartphone app, enabling him to see whether the skaters were bent deep enough as they went around the track. If their posture wasn’t optimal, the coach could press a button to send a vibration that the skaters immediately felt on their wrist so they could make adjustments. Two Dutch skaters who used the suits during training medaled in the Games: Sjinkie Knegt, who won a silver medal in the men’s 1500 meter event; and Suzanne Schulting, who won a gold medal in the women’s 1000 meter race.
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