The ongoing Corona pandemic has presented many new challenges for society. The economy stalled, borders were closed and our own four walls were no longer only our home, but became our work place as well. During the past months, however, things have calmed down in many areas of life – making it possible to be creative and develop new ideas. The textile industry was one of the industries to see opportunities. Together with Boltware, H&M presented its new “wearable love” jacket – a jacket with built-in flexible sensors. The sensors are activated by an app via Bluetooth and simulate being touched. Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen first created a jeans jacket with integrated sensors in cooperation with Italian denim producer ItalDenim in 2008. The intelligent material reacts to a touch and releases an impulse in the jacket creating a pleasant sensation in the back of the person wearing the jacket. So, the idea is not completely new, but in times of social distancing rules, takes on an entirely new significance – despite keeping your distance you can experience physical closeness.
“Smart textiles” is the term for textiles with intelligent functions. The term is linked to many opportunities, for instance with handicapped persons. Textiles with a memory improve the gripping function of persons with movement disorders. Artificial muscles also create electrical impulses that can contract or stretch materials thus making every-day life for impaired persons easier. Protective clothing reloaded – materials capable of measuring and regulating the outside temperature have a special added value. They can double protection for firemen during firefighting operations. Specially designed data banks are in planning, providing smart textiles with data that helps protect the persons wearing them from illnesses – a promising thought in times of Corona.
Digitalised clothing – material scientists, bio scientists and electronic technicians have been working on new textile industry standards for years. And the trade show business is also reacting to developments in the industry. At the past edition of Cinte Techtextil in Shanghai, an area was created dedicated entirely to innovative products for the prevention of pandemics. German network SmartTex from the city of Weimar pools 65 companies and research institutes which aspire to developing new products, services and technologies. Google, Apple and the likes have also seen the potential smart textiles have and are investing large sums. By 2030, the smart textiles market in Germany alone is expected to reach 4.2 billion euros. Which materials and innovations will be successful in the end remains to be seen.
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