Sustainability Global

Smart Clothing: Garments Of The Future

Smart Clothing Garments Of The Future
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Have you heard of smart clothing? We are familiar with smartphones. Then, there came smart devices – smartwatches to do much more than simply tell time. Smart devices like Alexa and Google Home enabled us to do our shopping with just a few words, instead of clicks or swipes. Alexa and Google Home can also control the lighting and curtains in our homes. 

The rise of connected spaces 

The rapid expansion of the wearable technology market made our personal spaces, homes, offices, schools, even our vehicles for that matter, more connected. 

The evolution of cloth 

Now, believe it or not, humans have discovered a way to create smart clothing. And no, we do not mean “smart” to mean handsome. We mean smart clothing that is digitally advanced. There are engineers from Purdue University who have developed a method to transform cloth into battery-free wearables that will not disintegrate in the wash. 

However, several major challenges hinder the commercial development of smart clothing. These include dependence on batteries and reduced washability. There are also certain difficulties in incorporating these smart garments into textile manufacturing technologies on a large scale. 

How does smart clothing work? 

The clothes that have been developed by Purdue University engineers are wirelessly powered by a flexible silk-based coil sewn on the apparel. These pieces of smart clothing have miniature electronic circuits and sensors, allowing a wearer to easily communicate with their phone, car, computer, and other devices. 

Smart clothing: New health monitors 

Aside from increasing your productivity, smart clothing will even monitor your health. In the unfortunate event that you have an accident, your clothes will come to your rescue, literally. The smart clothing will call for help. 

Washing smart clothes

Putting smart clothing through a laundry cycle is a challenge that needs to be addressed, as electronics and water do not mix. 

But there seems to be a solution to that. By spray-coating smart clothing with hydrophobic molecules, they can be made repellent to water, mud, and oil. This makes the clothes almost impervious to stains. They can even be used underwater and can survive a wash cycle in conventional washing machines. Do not fret. The electronic components that form part of the clothing will not get damaged. 

Think the clothes may be uncomfortable?  

Waterproof clothes are typically rigid and not very breathable. This makes them uncomfortable to wear for more than a few hours. However, the smart clothing developed by Purdue University’s engineers is designed to remain flexible, stretchable, and as breathable as a regular T-shirt. 

Innovative ways to power smart clothes 

Smart clothing is not powered by batteries. Instead, they can be powered by harnessing energy from WiFi or radio waves. The clothes can power the electronic circuits sewn into the fabric. For instance, a battery-free glove illuminates its fingertips when the user is close to a live cable. This will warn them of the possibility of an electric shock.   

Reimagining clothes

Wearable technology such as this will make people think differently about clothes. They will not be garments that simply help us stay warm, but smart clothing will also evolve into wearable tools that track our health and protect us from accidents. 

A closer look at smart clothing 

The engineers use traditional fabrics and wirelessly power them with omniphobic silk-based coils (OSCs). These are stretchable, lightweight power-receiving coils that can be sewn onto textiles. The clothes are wirelessly powered through magnetic resonance coupling, and yet manage to retain a degree of comfort for wearers. 

While these innovations are patent-pending, do you think smart clothing could become a reality in the future?  

About the author

Dheeraj Kapoor

A content writer with over 5 years of experience, Dheeraj has written for a variety of domains including finance, education technology, technology, and Big Data among others.