Lena Berglin, researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles and FOV Fabrics AB in Borås loves to combine technology and textiles to create smart, interactive clothing.
Her love started at the turn of the millennium when she dismantled two interactive products, among them an intelligent glove, capable of transmitting communication.
This experience and the following re-assambly of the parts which led to a complete new textile product, an ECG tank-top, got her hooked to wearable electronic forever.
A joint development with the Work Life Institute and the Medical Technology department at the Umeå University in the area of garments for health monitoring ended in the creation of a tank-top, a cardigan and a belt that measure ECG, muscular activity and breathing frequency.
The cardigan was developed because it is easy to wear on top of other clothes. The garment measures at the wrist. The cuffs sensor is woven according to a three layer principle and connected to a small unit which contains the battery and transmitter.
In her dissertation in November 2008, Lena talked about the different groups she sees in the smart textiles area.
‘The first group is hybrids, which means the electronic components are sown or woven into the textile. Many people don’t consider these smart textiles, but I call it the simplest form, because if the technology compoment is small enough, they work perfectly well.‘
The second group is where the fabric is the carrier or ‘motherboard’ forming a network of electrodes being connected.
The third group is the one she has dedicated most of her research so far, the interactive smart textiles like in her ECG tank-top.
She describes the fourth group as the resource smart textiles of the future. ‘That is where I want to continue with my research. It is the new generation of multifunctional fibers that enable resource saving smart products, where everything is integrated into the fabric.‘
Interested into organic electronics she is looking at ‘… how to purify saltwater through textiles to make it drinkable, clean air and keep fabric cold on the outside and warm on the inside.‘
[via: University of Borås]