Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
Wearable textiles with electronic gadgets and circuits incorporated in them are gaining prominence. Recently, an event was held at Cambridge, USA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to support and encourage the development of smart fabrics with electronics and special functionality in them. The event brought students and researchers from MIT, Boston area and many others in developing prototypes of functional fabrics.
About 20 projects were showcased and two projects were selected as winners. Remote Triage involves sensors in fabrics, which can detect injuries and Security Blanket that has multiple applications were selected as winners in the event. Other projects that were showcased at the event have exciting applications such as military clothing with RFID tags, stress detecting clothing, etc.
The event was organized by MIT Innovation Institute, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America and MD5, which is a partnership effort between U.S. Department of Defense and research intensive universities. According to Bill Kernick, technology and partnership development executive of MD5, the three-day event was held to enable relationships with various innovators and U.S. Department of Defense and help in moving ideas forward.
In addition to this technology event, organizations like USA-based Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) has been supporting student design competitions to support developing advanced textiles. Although, wearable textiles sector is creating a lot of buzz, a concerted effort is needed to deal with practical and logistical barriers such as cost, wearability and durability issues.