Wearables have been around for a long time now. Smart wearables are being produced to integrate technology closer to us like ever, from wearable loudspeakers to exoskeletons. In fact, technology has also entered the realm of fashion like iStrategy Labs’ Dorothy device and Levi’s commuter jacket. The engineers at Purdue University want to take it even further by creating smart clothes – a new aspect of FashionTech.
Purdue University is no stranger to creating high-tech fabric. Recently, their team has published their findings of creating smart clothes in Nano Energy this May. They were able to transform normal clothes into battery-free smart clothes that are powered wirelessly by omniphobic silk-based coils (OSC) sewn into silk fibroin that makes up smart textile.
Wearing washable tech
The OSC-powered smart textile makes for a wearable fabric that has miniaturized electronic circuits and sensors. This means that smart clothes will allow the wearer to communicate with their phone, computer, car, and other machines. For instance, can check your health or even call for help in case of an emergency. The fabric is also powered wirelessly through Wi-Fi or radio waves in the environment so you don’t need to think about charging your clothes.
While doing laundry might pose a problem for fabric with tech, the team at Purdue University provides a solution by spray-coating hydrophobic molecules onto the smart clothes. This makes the clothes repellent to water, mud, and oil.
Assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering Ramses Martinez further explains these smart clothes are made to be durable. He says that they are “almost impossible to stain and can be used underwater and washed in conventional washing machines without damaging the electronic components sewn on their surface.”
The team intends to push this development into commercialization. Martinez expresses his hope that “smart clothes will be able to transmit information… allowing machines to understand human intent without the need of other interfaces”. Currently, the innovations for this are patent-pending, but the study opens up new possibilities of sewing in technology.
YouTube: Wirelessly powered washable textiles
Photo credit: The images have been taken by Rebecca McElhoe for Purdue University and have been provided for press usage.
Source: Purdue press release / Marina Sala de Medeiros, Debkalpa Goswamia, Daniela Chanci, Carolina Moreno, Ramses V. Martinez (ScienceDirect)