Electronics textiles (e-textiles), or smart clothing, hold great promise for the health care market to better help manage a patient’s vital signs through worn outfits or to monitor for bed sores and much more.
A team of researchers from universities in China has developed a new type of e-textile that could allow a person to control household appliances or computers from a distance with the ease of touching a piece of clothing.
The technology could be used for people with limited mobility or disabilities that have left them immobile.
While smart clothing has been around for a while, existing versions have poor air permeability, can’t be laundered or are too costly to mass produce. The new e-textile is self-powered, highly sensitive and washable.
The e-textile contains a self-powered triboelectric nanogenerator that was created by depositing an electrode array of conductive carbon nanotubes on nylon fabric. To make it washable, researchers incorporated polyurethane into the carbon nanotube ink, which made the nanotubes firmly adhere to the fabric.
Then the fabric was covered with a piece of silk and fashioned into a wristband. When swiped with a finger in different patterns, the smart fabric generated electrical signals that were coupled to computers to control programs or household objects to turn on lights, a fan or a microwave from across the room.
The full research can be found at the American Chemical Society.