The use of Smart Fabrics for fashion is still in a very early stage with many uncertainties when and how Smart Fabrics will become another fabric selection option to fashion designer.
While the apparel industry is feverishly searching for the ‘killer application’ another at first sight unlikely business seems to have more innovative vision how Smart Fabrics can spice up and enrich in a sensible way their product range.
The car industry and in particular one of the innovators in this industry, German based BMW is very serious to replace the textile surfaces that make a car interior so comfy with Smart Fabrics that sense the car occupants, that serve as interaction point with the car and will accept our swiping gestures we use like it is part of our DNA to swipe our way through life.
BMW picked up the idea to use Smart Fabrics based on the work of researchers at the Polytechnic School in Montreal, Canada, who developed a soft, polymer-based fiber which can be woven into fabric adding electrical properties to the fibers that change depending on where it is touched.
According to researcher Maksim Skorobogatiy a piece of Smart Fabrics has been woven to prove the technology. Finger touches or swipes modify the capacitance of the fibers in the fabric. Apparently fabrics containing this sensing fiber can be easily cleaned – a must have for any car interior material.
During last years Geneva Motor Show BMW presented a concept car with smart surfaces giving a hint in which direction the future of car interaction will go. Less than a year later BMW found what they have been looking for and it might be just another 1-2 years before Smart Fabrics upgrade our car interior design and functionality.
Does that mean cars will be the killer application of smart fabrics? This could be the case in my opinion. The car industry is more aggressive and active when it comes to innovation. Research and development budgets in the car industry are substantially higher compared to the textile and clothing industry.
People working on soft technologies might what to check out opportunities the car industry can offer. Other areas of smart fabrics car designer have great interest is sensing fabrics (to monitor the fitness of the driver for example) and textile illumination to create a pleasant atmosphere inside the car.
PS: sorry for having been silent for a long time, got too many distraction around me. One of my personal challenges for 2012: update talk2myShirt on a more regular basis compared with the past few month. Stay tuned and thank you for checking out this place.