Textile Wearables in the World of IoT

The conference „Textile Wearables in the World of IoT“ organized by Centexbel as part of the EU project SmartX in Liège on the 1st of October brought together industry innovators, technology providers, economic promoters as well as designers and creative labs to discuss current technologies and challenges in the textile application of electronics and IT for smart textiles and wearables in the context of a connected world. 

With speakers from different universities, research institutes and companies operating within the textile industry, the conference covered a variety of relevant topics. From the research fields of technologies with IoT, microelectronics, small sensors and micro actuators to smart textiles talking about sensor integration process, component integration, printing sensors and connectivity. The most relevant topic, however, was to establish application possibilities for technologies and smart textiles concentrating on the fields of medical and healthcare, personal assistance, sport, logistics, workwear and automotive.

The presented technological and smart textile solutions all showed promising application opportunities and have already had some success across the different fields of application, for example the use of printed electronics in so called smart Health Patches which allows for continuous health data monitoring in hospitalized patients and at the same time can be used for athlete monitoring. The pilot project RunSmart developed by Henkel and Quad Industries, who were also part of the speaker team, used this smart Health Patch with a group of marathon trainees to continuously measure the electrocardiogram of the heart during training, resting and race in order to personalize the runners’ training schedule.

Furthermore, the challenges arising with the application of technology to textiles was considered an important aspect when talking about textile wearables in the world of IoT. Some of the remaining challenges the different application fields face are washability, durability, data security and privacy and most importantly consumer appreciation and their lack of awareness, as the user is an important factor to be considered in textile interfaces.

All in all, the conference successfully established a status quo for textile wearables in an interconnected world across a variety of industries and showed that despite facing some challenges, these technologies and developments have great application potentials.

The conference was concluded by the SmartX workshop in the afternoon introducing the European Smart Textiles Accelerator funding up to 40 smart textile innovators over the next 3 years. Innovation projects supported through the SmartX Accelerator Programme will focus on filling the industrial manufacturing gap that currently exists between an abundance of promising design prototypes and a growing end market interest in smart textiles and wearables. Sourcebook’s involvement as a consortial partner to SmartX supports the EU project in the development of the community platform and by organizing events like the upcoming SmartX IoT Hackathon in Berlin.

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