Big Advancement In Smart Textiles Market: Researchers Develop A Programmable Digital Fiber

Posted On June 29, 2021     

Smart textiles increase possibilities for fabrics to understand the hidden patterns within a human body that could help in monitoring physical performance, early disease detection, medical inference, and several other things. If research and development are invested towards the smart textile industry, one day, people might even be able to store the music played on their wedding day in the wedding gown that was worn that day.
 
New research might be a big step towards achieving this goal as they have created a fiber that has digital capabilities and can sense, analyze, store and infer activities in the surroundings once it is sewn into a shirt. The development is a huge advancement for Smart Textiles Market as the new digital fiber contains memory, temperature sensors, and a compatible neural network program for interpreting physical activity.
 
Before this, electronic fibers have been analog and were carrying a constant electrical signal instead of digital, wherein small bits of information can be encoded and processed in the way of 0s and 1s. The present work is the first realization of a fabric with the capability of storing and processing data digitally. Thus adding a new information content dimension to textiles and enabling programming in fabrics.
 
The team revealed that the new fiber was created by placing a large number of silicon microscale digital chips into a preform that was used to construct a polymer fiber. Through precise controlling of polymer flow, the researchers were able to make a fiber that had a constant electrical connection in between the chips over a length of tens of meters. The new fiber itself is quite thin and can easily pass through needles and be sewn into fabrics or washed at least ten times without breaking apart. The shirts made from this fiber feel completely natural, bringing new areas of opportunities and solves some problems related to functional fibers.

The fiber is also interesting in relation to artificial intelligence as it includes a neural network of 1650 connections inside the fiber memory. After the fabric was sewn around the armpit, the researchers collected 270 minutes of surface body temperature data from the user and analyzed the received data in correspondence to physical activities undertaken. Relying on the data, fabric successfully determined the activity being engaged by the person wearing the fabric with 96% accuracy. Looking at the analytic power of the fiber, someday, it might be able to sense and alert people about their health changes in real-time.

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