Hey, guys. Have you figured out what e-textiles are and how fabrics are turned into sensors? We got that covered for you in this article.
Electronic Textiles (e-textiles or smart textiles) are fabrics that feature electronics and interconnections woven into them, presenting physical flexibility and typical size that cannot be achieved with other existing electronic manufacturing techniques. Components and interconnections are intrinsic to the fabric and thus are less visible and not susceptible of becoming tangled or snagged by surrounding objects. E-textiles can also more easily adapt to fast changes in the computational and sensing requirements of any specific application, this one representing a useful feature for power management and context awareness. The vision behind wearable computing foresees future electronic systems to be an integral part of our everyday outfits. Such electronic devices have to meet special requirements concerning wear ability. Wearable systems will be characterized by their ability to automatically recognize the activity and the behavioral status of their own user as well as of the situation around her/him, and to use this information to adjust the systems’ configuration and functionality. This review focuses on recent advances in the field of Smart Textiles and pays particular attention to the materials and their manufacturing process. Each technique shows advantages and disadvantages and our aim is to highlight a possible trade-off between flexibility, ergonomics, low power consumption, integration and eventually autonomy.
The term “Smart Textiles” refers to a broad field of studies and products that extend the functionality and usefulness of common fabrics. Smart Textiles are defined as textile products such as fibres and filaments, yarns together with woven, knitted or non-woven structures, which can interact with the environment/user. The convergence of textiles and electronics (e-textiles) can be relevant for the development of smart materials that are capable of accomplishing a wide spectrum of functions, found in rigid and non-flexible electronic products nowadays. Smart Textiles will serve as a means of increasing social welfare and they might lead to important savings on welfare budget. They integrate a high level of intelligence and can be divided into three subgroups:
- Passive smart textiles: only able to sense the environment/user, based on sensors.
- Active smart textiles: reactive sensing to stimuli from the environment, integrating an actuator function and a sensing device.
- Very smart textiles: able to sense, react and adapt their behavior to the given circumstances.
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