Smart garments and intelligent textiles are a result of an innovative convergence between fabrics and electronics. Merging these two creates a new level of smartness that brings rise to multiple uses of new innovative and useful applications of smart fabrics across many sectors, capable of benefiting citizens in their everyday lives and going about their daily activities.
Practical everyday human needs can be served by smart garments for each individual or collective. TSSG is leveraging their in-house Creative and Usability Design team who focus on maximizing a person’s interactive experience through usability testing and iterative design feeding into the garment development phase. How systems can be positioned and solutions designed that prioritise the needs of people who will interact with them will form the basis of research in this lab. These innovations can be incorporated into their daily lives in an easy to use and manageable way. Core to the ethos of Waterford Institute of Technology, the eTextile and Smart Garment Innovation Lab in TSSG* is a pioneer in advancing science and improving the interaction between people and technologies.
When people initially think of smart garments, they predominately think of their uses and application in healthcare including monitoring a person’s temperature, motion or heartrate. Utilising embedded sensors on a garment, healthcare professionals can perform a multitude of observations such as gait analysis, sports rehabilitation, EEG readings, blood pressure and sweat analysis. The practical uses of such eTextiles and smart garments in the healthcare sector is endless. People who suffer from chronic healthcare conditions such as hypertension, heart failure and arthritis, for example, can benefit from such smart garment innovations called ‘condition specific smart clothing’.
In the current Covid-19 and economic climate, people’s mental health and wellbeing is being highlighted as an area of concern. Have you ever considered how eTextiles and smart garments could benefit here? The use of multisensory eTextiles such as touch acoustics or responsive eTextiles can act in a calming manner for such conditions. These applications not only benefit adults but also children with mental health and wellbeing challenges.
At the innovation lab, TSSG will not only look at the embedded smart electronics side of eTextiles. Researchers will stretch beyond the norm to investigate emerging technologies with eTextiles such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) innovations and augmented reality. TSSG will push the boundaries of eTextiles and will investigate new opportunities utilizing trending technologies including nanotechnologies to, for example, develop bacterial and water resistant clothing along with wrinkle and stain resistant clothing.
Stay tuned for our next article outlining the of eTextiles in the Manufacturing and Big Pharma sectors.
*The eTextiles and Smart Material Innovation Lab is funded by the 2020 Enterprise Ireland Capital Equipment Fund and is expected to be accessible to Irish industry in mid-2021. For further