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The Future of Wearable Technology

(February/March 2016) posted on Mon Mar 07, 2016

Why screen printers should care about the development of apparel infused with electronic sensors and circuitry.

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By Eileen Fritsch

At the 2015 IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA show last November, Sensoria won the “Best New Wearable Technology Device” award for its “Smart Socks.” Each sock includes three thin, soft textile pressure sensors. A magnetic Bluetooth smart electronic anklet snaps onto each sock, collecting and transmitting the data from the sensors wirelessly to Sensoria’s mobile app and web dashboards. Runners can use data about foot landing, cadence, and time on the ground to improve their form and performance. Sensoria’s Smart Socks can be used with the company’s smart sports bras or T-shirts. These upper-body garments feature integrated heartrate monitoring without the hassle of wearing a chest strap.

Military: The integration of electronics with fabrics will enable soldiers to carry lighter-weight batteries and equipment with heads-up displays, chemical and biological threat detectors, and combat ID sensors. Personal physiological status sensors can measure fatigue or send alerts to rescue personnel when soldiers are exposed to explosive forces.

Infotainment: As virtual reality systems become popular forms of entertainment, education, and training, sensors mounted on gloves or garment sleeves can precisely track how a person wearing a virtual reality headset actually moves. By using the body as an input device, the immersive games or training programs become more realistic
and effective.

Fashion: Designers and artists have been imagining what might be possible with interactive clothing for at least five years. Visitors to the “Coded_Couture” exhibit at the Pratt Institute in New York, which runs until April 30, will see groundbreaking concepts from a variety of artists and designers. For example, designer Ying Gao has made interactive dresses that combine super organza (a lightweight fabric that blocks air-conditioning drafts in the summer and provides thermal insulation in the winter), photoluminescent threads, PVDF (a thermoplastic), and embedded eye-tracking technology. When the eye-tracking technology is activated by a viewer’s gaze, the wearer knows she’s being noticed.


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