By early 2021 some 18 million items of intelligent clothing, or wearables are expected to be sold. These are fabrics that can measure heart rate, body temperature or stress levels and react accordingly. Conductive yarns, for example, are now being used to produce illuminated clothing, which can contain up to 625 lighting elements per meter.
Wearables are electronic technologies and computers that can be incorporated into items of clothing and worn; one characteristic is that they are directly connected to the internet, which means they are in a position to exchange data. They enable a new form of human/machine interaction with a virtually inexhaustible range of possible applications. Examples such as smart shirts, intelligent accessories or medical products can save lives. Most importantly, by adding to the wearer’s awareness of health and mobility, they improve safety in daily life and at work, as they can alert the user to risks and help in optimising working processes. In spite of their great potential in the field of clothing, wearables and smart textiles have not yet moved beyond the early development phase. The reason for this is that a huge range of different elements in industry and science needs to work cooperatively to implement new ideas successfully and bring them to market.