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Mar 29, 2022
The first thing that comes to mind when people think of wearable technology is the clunky wrist-worn devices - smartwatches and fitness trackers that, despite their best efforts, are still not pretty enough to be worn all day. In fact, wearables still have a long way to go in terms of proper integration into the daily lives of individuals concerning the "fashion" aspect.
The term "wearable innovation" in fashion refers to the products that utilize progressed electronic and processing methods for the design business. In today's biometric wearable industry, smartwatches are the most advanced wearable product.
Sometimes these types of clothes are called smart & intelligent textiles, or essentially "wearables." In other words, Wearable technology in fashion is simply the combination of clothes and tech. At times it is referred to as "Smart Clothing."
Now, what's the new term Smart Clothing. Is it related to smart technology?
Let's dive into some details about Smart Clothing
Electronic devices designed to integrate with connected devices (like smartphones) and the wearer's body make up smart clothing products. Sensors in smart clothes gather biometric and physical data from the wearer, including their body temperature and heart rate. A paired smartphone receives sensor data and transfers it via Bluetooth to relevant apps, where users can view it. Clothing that incorporates advanced textile fibers, microelectronics, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence (AI) is called smart clothing.
Some examples of smart clothes
Smart work clothes, Smart activewear, Smart shoes, Smart socks, Smart casual wear, Smart sleepwear.
Growing awareness of health and fitness, increasing demand for body monitoring through various sensors, and the introduction and adoption of smart clothing by a variety of end-users are driving the growth of the global smart clothing industry.
Wearable Technology in Fashion Industry
Here are some of the top tech advancements being used in fashion today, such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and advanced fibers.
Let's discuss how wearable technology is capturing the fashion industry:
Advanced fibers: Material science advances are enhancing textile functionality. Adding metallics, optical fibers, and conductive polymers to textiles can enhance their sensory capability, conductivity, and data transmission. Apparel and tech companies make advanced fibers from these materials and textile fibers like nylon, cotton, polyester, silk, wool, and Kevlar. As a way for designers to set themselves apart and appeal to the public, novel fabrics are perhaps the future of fashion.
Startups such as Modern Meadow are tackling producing lab-grown leather without harming animals. In the same vein, companies like Bolt Threads and EntoGenetics are creating spider silk that is extremely strong.
3D Printing: An industry largely associated with prototyping is 3D printing. Smart clothing is a trend that is growing in the apparel industry. The Tsinghua University researchers in China used a 3D printer in 2019 to print patterns on silk and draw pictures and letters, allowing it to transform movements into energy.
Similarly, Intel has designed smart clothing that has embedded sensors. A demonstration of this kind will spur investment in 3D-printed smart clothing from the textile, technology, healthcare, and military industries.
Artificial Intelligence: Currently, Smart clothing uses AI primarily for virtual fitness coaching systems. For example, startups like Sensoria offer an artificial intelligence-based in-app coach for wearers of their smart t-shirts that uses performance analytics to improve running performance.
As of 2019, Google has added certain features of its Assistant conversation platform to Levi's Commuter Trucker jackets. Through pre-recorded gestures on the jacket's cuff, users can ask questions about the time, weather, and news and receive answers.
Sensors: Sensors are an essential part of smart clothing. These devices provide data that users can use to monitor their health. Unfortunately, washing ruins the sensors integrated into the garments. Researchers are developing sensors that can survive multiple washes and remain effective.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented washable, garment-woven biosensors in 2020 for remote monitoring and telemedicine. While this is a step forward, clothing sensors are still in the beginning stages of development. The goal of smart clothing makers is to add sensors that generate vital user information for effective health and activity monitoring, thereby enhancing the clothes' durability and appeal.
Power supply: The majority of smart clothing uses lithium-ion batteries, which require frequent recharging. Consequently, some companies are considering alternative energy sources. A collaboration between researchers from the University of Bath in the UK, the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany, and the University of Coimbra in Portugal developed nylon fibers that produce electricity.
The European Union (EU) participates actively in the development of alternative power sources for electronics, as well as clothing. A project funded by the EU explored the development of thermoelectric textiles that harness body heat to power electronics.