April 11, 2008 Safety clothing might be imperative for some jobs, but when it becomes a hindrance and makes work uncomfortable and annoying, it needs to be reassessed. Take the orange safety suits worn by helicopter crews working on oil platforms off the coast of Norway - they're designed to stop the wearer from drowning or freezing to death if their choppers crash-land into the freezing ocean - but the properties that make them effective insulators also make them incredibly hot and sweaty to work in. Enter Helly Hansen's smart suit, impregnated with micro-particles of paraffin wax. The wax slowly melts as body temperatures increase, gradually sucking heat away from the body to cool the wearer through the day, making it much more comfortable. And if the wearer is plunged into icy water, the wax releases stored heat as it solidifies, allowing the suit to be even more effective at the safety component of its job.
September 12, 2007 New Zealand’s famous All Blacks rugby team are about to miss out on a significant Kiwi advance in sports clothing technology that their Australian, South African, Irish and Scottish teams will bring to the World Cup. The All Blacks’ Adidas sponsorship will prevent them from using the revolutionary new IonX sportswear from Canterbury - a smart fabric
that uses ionic energy to maximize blood flow, cool and calm the wearer, and deliver measurable performance gains in power output and recovery times.
August 28, 2007 Smart fabric technology makers Eleksen Group
have announced sensor technology allowing consumers to choose which gadget they want to control via their interactive clothing. The new technology system will also benefit garment makers wanting to create interactive apparel (iApparel) but lack the technological capabilities.
August 23, 2007 An innovative new jacket design from Zegna Sport
will allow wearers to simultaneously listen to their iPod and talk on their cell phone utilizing a controller embedded in the jacket sleeve. The Bluetooth iJacket has been made using smart fabric from the Eleksen Group
, makers of touch-sensitive smart fabrics for clothing, electronics and accessories.
May 28, 2007 We've been speaking recently with a couple of innovative companies who are taking different angles
on how wearable medical observation apparatus can be used in sport and medicine. Now, an EU-funded project is setting out to take the next step - creating comfortable clothing with the built-in ability to measure a range of physiological data using intelligent textiles instead of bulky apparatus. Comfortable and unobtrusive biochemical measurement equipment could play a significant role in preventative and recovery medicine, among other areas.
January 27, 2006 One of the more interesting companies we’ve encountered in the last 12 months has been Konarka
. For starters, Konarka was founded by the winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for chemistry, Dr. Alan Heeger, who has since become the company’s chief scientist. We first wrote about Konarka’s light-activated plastic power supply for the battlefield
, but in more recent times we’ve seen the company announce a joint development program with Textronics
to create prototype garments and fashion accessories with portable, wearable power generation capabilities and more recently comes the news that the Konarka’s Power Plastic materials are being developed to extend and enhance packaging and display applications. Imagine a can or bottle with dynamic content, boxes that light up or containers that serve as power sources for their contents.
March 7, 2005 Adidas has launched the intelligent shoe it unveiled last year. Known as adidas_1, the shoe provides "intelligent cushioning" by automatically and continuously adjusting itself. It does so by sensing the cushioning level, using sensors. It then calculates whether the cushioning level is too soft or too firm via a microprocessor and adapts with a motor-driven cable system to provide the correct cushioning for the specific purpose at that time. A prime example of the convergence process in which computers are embedded in everyday objects to enable them to play their role more effectively, the adidas shoe is one of a number of intelligent clothing items arriving at market this year. Available now, adidas_1 costs US$250 or 250 Euros.
November 26, 2004 A new smart-fabric derived from the properties of pinecones has been developed by the UK based Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technologies
. The fabric adapts to changing temperatures by opening up when warm and shutting tight when cold just like a pinecone's scales do in nature, and is just one of the emerging developments in the burgeoning field of "biomimetics". The "breathing" fabric is designed to stop the wearer getting hot or cold by adjusting itself to both internal and external temperatures. The textile is made up of a layer of thin spikes of wool, or another water-absorbent material, that opens up when it's made wet by the wearer's sweat. When the layer dries out, the spikes automatically close up again. A second layer underneath protects the wearer from the rain.
Clothes have done much more than serve as protection from the weather for tens of thousands of years. Over the last few millennia they've been worn as statements of rank and fashion, adapted for countless specialised uses from military combat to surfing and bee-keeping, cut and tailored in every conceivable shape, colour, size and fabric, and become signposts for entire cultures.
Along the way clothing manufacture has embraced and developed many new innovations, and it seems a natural progression for micro-electronics and other emerging 21st century technologies to find their way into our wardrobes next to the zip-off tracksuit pants and the Moon-boots. The result: clothes are getting smarter.Smart clothing will both enhance its primary role as body covering and extend its functionality to keep us connected, entertained, relaxed, safe and healthy. Fabrics and designs with built in temperature control mechanisms will merge with invisible add-ons like mobile phones and MP3 players, sophisticated medical monitoring systems integrated into shirts will save lives and clothes may even provide us with our daily vitamin supplement.
Leveraging their world-renowned expertise in wearable electronics, scientists at Philips Research in Aachen, Germany, have developed a wearable, wireless monitoring system that can warn patients with underlying health problems, assist clinicians in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients at risk, and automatically alert emergency services in the event of and acute medical event.