Based on the advances in computer technology, especially in the field of
miniaturization, wireless technology and worldwide networking, the vision of wearable
computers emerged. We already use a lot of portable electronic devices like cell
phones, notebooks and organizers. The next step in mobile computing could be to
create truly wearable computers that are integrated into our daily clothing and
always serve as our personal assistant. This paper explores this from a textile
point of view. Which new functions could textiles have? Is a combination of textiles
and electronics possible? What sort of intelligent clothing can be realized? Necessary
steps of textile research and examples of current developments are presented as
well as future challenges.
the interaction of human individuals with electronic devices demands specific
user skills. In future, improved user interfaces can largely alleviate this problem
and push the exploitation of microelectronics considerably. In this context the
concept of smart clothes promises greater user-friendliness, user empowerment,
and more efficient services support. Wearable electronics responds to the acting
individual in a more or less invisible way. It serves individual needs and thus
makes life much easier. We believe that today, the cost level of important microelectronic
functions is sufficiently low and enabling key technologies are mature enough
to exploit this vision to the benefit of society. In the following, we present
various technology components to enable the integration of electronics into textiles.
textiles (e-textiles) are fabrics that have electronics and interconnections woven
into them. Components and interconnections are a part of the fabric and thus are
much less visible and, more importantly, not susceptible to becoming tangled together
or snagged by the surroundings. Consequently, e-textiles can be worn in everyday
situations where currently available wearable computers would hinder the user.
E-textiles also have greater flexibility in adapting to changes in the computational
and sensing requirements of an application.
number and location of sensor and processing elements can be dynamically tailored
to the current needs of the user and application, rather than being fixed at design
time. As the number of pocket electronic products (mobile phone, palm-top computer,
personal hi-fi, etc.) is increasing, it makes sense to focus on wearable electronics,
and start integrating today's products into our clothes. The merging of advanced
electronics and special textiles has already begun.
Wearable computers can now
merge seamlessly into ordinary clothing. Using various conductive textiles, data
and power distribution as well as sensing circuitry can be incorporated directly
into wash-and-wear clothing.
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