Smart Textiles: Weaving with electronics

Smart-Textiles-ETH_ZurichMost wearable electronic development we see today are made by attaching either permanently or removable electronic functionality. This concept has it’s usefulness in some areas but the ultimate break through in wearable electronic will be by fully integrating electronics into fabrics from which clothing is made.

Fabrics are made by weaving yarns of different types and colors. So wearable electronics will be the most important elements in wearable electronic development.

ETH Zurich is one of the leading institutes in wearable technology research and development since the early days of wearable electronics. A recently published research project by Scientists from Professor Gerhard Tröster’s Wearable Computing Lab developed a new technology to attach thin-film electronics and miniaturized, commercially available chips to plastic fibers.

The first electronic fabric patches produced are still ribbon-like but the researchers aim to produce intelligent textiles in any size so they can be cut as required to satisfy the requirements of the clothing industry.


These Electronic fibers can contain miniature sensors together with the necessary processing electronics building a smart, self-contained system in one string. Weaving them into fabric structures allow advanced electronic functionality of the fabric itself without relaying on attached or external hardware. Just connect power to these smart fabrics and these textiles come to life.

The research team is confident that such fabricated smart fabrics can be mass-produced on conventional looms and the woven structures are washable up to 30 degree Celsius.

This all sounds very promising and as I mentioned at the begin, a much needed step towards fully integrated wearable technology.

[source: ETH Zurich]


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