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Waterford researchers trailblazing the future of eTextiles and Smart Materials 

By 12th October 2020 No Comments

eTextiles and Smart Materials Innovation Lab (eTex)

People are in contact with textiles for up to 98 percent of their lives and such textiles and garments are starting to become more intelligent. New innovations beyond standard wrist-worn wearables are starting to emerge. The wearables2.0 era (smartwatches, wearable intelligent jewelry, safety trackers etc.) is extending and impacting the garment domain through electronic embedded clothing innovations via new and innovative fabric sensors and biometric textile materials.

The concept of smart garments has been around for a while, but in recent times there is progressive industry movement in the next generation of smart textile products, driven by a fast moving technology era. We here at the TSSG have been involved in a number of innovations to develop and validate products focused on persons gait and movement monitoring, VR haptic glove, sensor sock for sports tracking/monitoring, general sports performance monitoring and cloud based software solution for fashion industry.

With such a growing and expanding industry base there has been a need at national level to have in place a Smart material/eTextile living lab to support Irish industry potential in this sector. Smart garments and smart fabrics harness the ability for Internet of Things. Advancements occurring in the area of smart nano-textiles and low powered devices with integrated sensing and actuator capabilities are once again driving innovation in this area.

The emergence of new artificial intelligence technologies along with more miniature devices stem new innovative applications and usages of smart garments and eTextiles across various sectors.  The eTextile and Smart Material Innovation lab, funded by Enterprise Ireland, through its dedicated inhouse lab equipment will facilitate new opportunities to investigate proof of concepts, rapid prototyping and evaluation of usability of conceptual ideas relating to wearable eTextiles and wearable electronics and flexible embedded circuitry. Specific focus will be on applications around fabric soft circuitry, using various methods and techniques in order to achieve a seamless integrated approach.

The eTex lab will facilitate the following:

  • Technical Embroidery Equipment Suite
  • Environment for fabric soft circuit conductive ink and materials printing suite
  • Human centric monitoring
  • Demonstration and validation devices Suite.
  • Physiological sensing equipment and a collection of tracking and fabric sensors.

From  a research perspective The eTex lab opens the door to further investigative, exciting and emerging research areas such as biometric textiles, nano-fabrics, molecular textiles, bio-textiles and much more.

Leveraging the inhouse ICT expertise we have around artificial intelligence, machine learning and bio-nano molecular communications we push the boundaries around how to apply and merge these two different disciplines to discover new and innovative future emerging technologies.

The eTextile and Smart material Innovation lab is expected to be accessible to Irish industry in mid-2021. For further information contact Frances Cleary, research lead in this area fcleary@tssg.org or the Technology Gateway team techgateway@tssg.org