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Wearables, Smart Textiles and Nanotechnologies (May 2016)

Wearables, Smart Textiles and Nanotechnologies (May 2016)

  • May 2016
  • 258 pages
  • ID: 3969442
  • Format: PDF
  • Cientifica ltd


Table of Contents

Executive Summary
The past few years have seen the introduction of a number of “wearable” technologies, from fitness trackers to “smart watches.” While these devices integrate a number of sensors such as accelerometers they suffer from a number of major drawbacks. The combination of high prices, lack of accuracy “another tracker ... once told me I had walked three miles while I sat on my couch eating popcorn and watching a movie” and quick obsolesce is holding back the entire market.

Wearable Technologies Need More than Silicon + Software The problem with most wearable technology businesses is that the business model requires owning the whole value chain, from the sensor to the data. Taking a silicon centric view of the technology is a classic example of the availability cognitive bias –“we know silicon and software so let’ s use it.”A different, and more productive approach is to start by identifying the unmet need. In this case people want to view to monitor things about themselves which could include heart rate, blood pressure, hydration levels but they don’ t want to make any effort to collect the data and of course they want everything to be simple and unobtrusive as possible. It turns out the solution to “wearables you won’ t want to wear “is all around us, literally! The Solution Is in Your Closet (Or Soon Will Be) Smart clothing is an idea that has been tried without success for over a decade. The biggest hurdle has been integrating the sensor with the textile and most attempts so far have been somewhat clunky.

There have been two broad approaches. The first is to create some form of conductive fibre. Last year Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced that they had coated Nickel on to woven polyester fabrics using the electroless deposition method. This approach is said to have enabled them to have good drapability, enhancing the wearability of such structures but even weaving this into a garment and mixing conductive with traditional fibres still just creates an expensive conductive fabric with no added functionality. The second approach has been to add electronics to the surface, either by printing, depositing or simply gluing them. The North Face introduced their CONNECTEDwear line in 2009where for a 200-300%% premium you could control your iPod by pressing buttons on the jacket sleeves. Smart in this case meant some touch sensors and a wire running up the inside of the sleeve, something that was mercifully rendered obsolete by controls on the headphone cord and more latterly by voice control. Despite that, Google and Levis launched another iteration in 2016. The bottom line for wearables seems to be that they are crude, clunky, expensive and usually not very wearable. Until now. The past few years have seen an explosion of interest in wearable devices and the textile industry, which has been developing smart textiles for a decade is ideally poised to take advantage.

Unlike today’ s ‘ wearables’ tomorrow’ s devices will be fully integrated into the the garment through the use of conductive fibres, multilayer 3D printed structures and two dimensional materials such as graphene. This represents significant opportunities for existing smart textiles companies and new entrants to create and grow niche markets in sectors currently dominated by hardware manufacturers such Apple and Samsung. The Shift To Higher Value Textiles The global textile market is currently dominated by apparel (clothing), home textiles and technical textiles, with clothing representing close to 60% of the market.

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