The next Big thing in Wearable Electronic will be light emitting textiles. While the controls (Eleksen) and sound elements (NXT) reached a certain maturity in the integration into clothing and other soft goods, light emitting textiles still have a long way to go.
Getting display like functionality into clothing or soft goods like bags for the consumer market still remains a field to be explored.
One of such exploration to bring display functionality into clothing is the European Union Framework 6 project Modecom.
Modecom is a €1.3M (around 1.8M US$) three-year project by an international consortium of researchers could help bring to mass market organic light emitting devices (OLEDs), which could have far reaching technological implications and cut the cost of lighting by billion of pounds each year.
The discovery that some polymers have the unusual property of either turning electricity into light, or light into electricity, depending on how the devices are made will be investigated in this project.
This research will also aid the understanding of solar cells. Solar cells, or photovoltaics, convert light to electricity and are used to power many devices and have a very prominent place in our Wearable Electronic coverage lately.
Because these polymers are thin and flexible, they could be used in a multiplicity of ways:
- in garments which could change color at the press of a button
- in clothing which displays strips of the polymer which run off solar power, allowing electronic messages to be displayed which can be updated. This could be useful for the emergency services such as police or ambulance (see Related Links for an animation of this)
- as a source of solar power to top up mobile phones batteries
The research consortium consists of 13 groups from nine universities and two companies. Three groups are from the UK, six from the USA, and one each from China, Belgium, Italy and Denmark. The European Union is funding the European and Chinese partners.
We hope this project will give a big boost the the next big thing in Wearable Electronic and we can soon change the color of our dress with the push of a (Eleksen) button.