TOP TAKES is IoT Sources’ filtered content channel, bringing you the most important breaking news and notable events surrounding the Internet of Things. Today’s post originated from: edgylabs.com and authored by William McKinney.
Recently, researchers at the University of Cambridge have shown us how 2D materials can be integrated into textiles to create washable circuits.
The technology could open the door for things like ‘smart clothing’ and better wearable electronics. While this may sound like a huge splash for the wearable tech market (and it is), it could also be a subtly groundbreaking tech in many other fields.
The textile electronics are low-cost, sustainable, and they don’t need any new techniques to integrate them into the cloth. They’re also washable for about 20 wash cycles.
According to the paper’s first author, PhD student Tian Carey, “The printed components are flexible, washable, and require low power, essential requirements for applications in wearable electronics.”
To begin talking about applications of this technology, let’s think practically about what electronically active clothes could do for you.
According to Dr. Felice Torrisi, “Turning textile fibres into functional electronic components can open up an entirely new set of applications from healthcare and wellbeing to the Internet of Things.”
For example, say you connect your shirt to the local WiFi network. With that, it could conceivably access a cloud data bank loaded with many different displays. That could turn your favorite shirt into, well, your favorite shirt, but with more options.
The idea here is that electronic clothing could become integrated with the Internet of Things. That would give us the freedom for a virtually unlimited amount of applications based on how it displays and interacts with data.
The possibilities don’t simply end with displays, however. Torrisi mentioned applications in healthcare, and those could be huge when it comes to saving lives. For example, there are many biomonitors being researched that could benefit from integration with textiles.
You could, for instance, have a hospital gown with interactive sensors and displays. That could replace some of the bulkier monitoring equipment that currently inhabits hospital rooms across the world.
Other possibilities for washable circuits include military technology, memory storage, and even energy harvesting. Who would like it if their pants could charge their phones? I sure would.