Smart or intelligent textiles are those which can sense and then respond to an external stimulus. The stimuli conditions can include heat change, light, sound, ph level, electronic or magnetic currents, moisture or mechanical interaction. Responses are engineered in reaction to the stimulus and these can include thermal, light, electronic outputs, and mechanical movement.
The movement towards standardising smart textile defines that the word smart is interchangeable with intelligent, however a range of other terms and definitions are widely used.
Passive Smart Textiles; Can only sense a stimulus.
Active Smart Textiles: Can sense and react (actuate) to a stimulus.
Ultra smart textiles: Can sense and react to stimuli and adapt themselves to meet the conditions, implementing reasoning.
Clothing with wearable technology are garments with in build technology devices such as music players, they are not specifically classed as smart, these are defined as electronic of E-Textiles.
The market for smart textiles and wearable technologies is on a steady incline. Continuous development of new products and the availability to provide a wide range of functions across a diverse customer base ensures it a vibrant future. The potential of future products is influenced by technological innovation and consumer need. Technological innovation is a continuous process with new understanding, materials, process and applications being developed globally. The consumer need is driven by various factors such as an aging population and related health needs, creating a need for bio sensors, technological reliance of a generation, such as internet access and lifestyle and leisure needs, such as time saving and performance products. Challenges to overcome include excepted usability levels from consumers, such as ease of use and power supply and pricing.
- White paper on Smart garments; a market overview of intelligent textile technologies in apparel. 2011
- Moving smart fabrics to market 2007
- Global Smart Fabrics and Interactive Textiles Market to Reach US$1.8 Billion by 2015, According to New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
- Smart textiles set for rapid growth (2012)
- Smart textiles and wearable technology set for rapid growth
- Global industry analysts: Smart fabrics and interactive textiles- A global strategic business report
- Smart textiles and wearable technology; opportunities for life enhancement and helath management
This section focussing specifically on Smart materials is currently under construction.
For now information on Smart materials may be found in the related functionality area;
- Phase Change Materials
- Thermochromic materials
- Shape memory polymers
- Photochromic materials