Smart Clothing, making life more comfortable
Nowadays, it’s perfectly normal to have GPS on your phone. It’s a fact of the modern age that you can track your workout progress through a smart bracelet, you can check your BMI on your bathroom scales and monitor your heartrate through an APP. But what if you could do all of these things without adding any accessories. What if you could pay for your coffee with the sleeve of your shirt, or you could cool down your body with just your clothes. That time has come. As new technology emerges, the introduction of smart clothing has started to revolutionise the fashion industry.
From shirts that keep your body temperature neutral, to jackets that can heat it up. Smart clothing applications are changing the way we look at clothing. Although, the technology behind these innovations has been around for years, the integration into everyday clothes is new. And it’s not just aimed at that gym rat who is slightly obsessed with their workout. These smart clothes can be used by everyone. Even that loaded guy at a rave can wear a t-shirt that lights up with the vibrations from the bass. Imagine that, the glow sticks are now embedded in the shirt on your back.
But how does it work?
The technology behind smart clothing comes from printed electronics. These components are already used in things like ECG’s and glucose sensors. This technology is then coated with rubber like materials, that keep moisture out. See, the key here, is the moisture. Clothes need to be washed. They should have a certain level of durability. The problem that designers are facing at present is just that. They are looking for ways to make these smart clothes survive many washes.
Companies such as DuPont are working on making the ink in the printed electronics both washable and stretchable. That brings another point to consider; the flexibility of the technology. Clothes need to have a certain amount of give, especially those designed with the athlete in mind. When this technology is mastered, the uses of smart clothing will increase.
Is smart clothing actually useful?
Some would say that the fitbits they wear or the scales they use work just fine, so what’s the need for another item that gives the same information. The point is, smart clothing can do much more than one thing. It could potentially monitor your heartrate and send that information to your doctor, regulate your body temperature in sub-zero temperatures, hold a GPS so you’ll get found if you’re lost on a mountain, all whilst charging your phone with solar panels.
The smart part being the human interaction. Yes, you can interact with your smart watch and wearables, but that data still needs to be manually inputted into the app. With smart clothing, you just have to wear the clothing and go about your day. The technology will one day be able to make adjustments unique to your needs. Say you live in a city where the weather changes drastically throughout the day. Your smart boots will be able to detect weather changes and heat up or cool down accordingly. Deeper than that, the boots will remember your foot preferences. Think about that, your feet are never too cold nor too hot. Or a jacket that can automatically light up when it gets dark so you can ride your bike without that extra layer of fluorescent clothes. Added bonus, the lights are powered by you; your kinetic energy from riding your bike charges the lights.