Experts predict that by 2020 there will be around 26 billion small electronic devices worldwide and millions of people will carry them daily in their pockets and bags. Many jobs need to be constantly online and new health devices connect us to our body by measuring heart rate, calories and more.All of these devices require batteries that lead to heavy equipment. But that’s not the only downside. Imagine the impact on the environment.
No wonder scientists from all over the world are working hard on energy-producing fabrics, on garments that keep the wearer warm, cool or charge their electronic devices.
A few years ago, the University of Bolton, Institute of Materials Research and Innovation, has written a paper on piezoelectric materials. The idea is a flexible fabric that allows knitting or weaving fabric for clothing, suitcases for personal gadgets and even sails, window curtains or tents that can charge batteries or portable electronics.
The Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University is working on a promising new thermoelectric “power felt” that converts body heat into electricity.The material consists of tiny carbon nanotubes surrounded by flexible plastic fibers that feel like cloth. Power Felt therefore uses temperature differences such as room temperature or body temperature to create a charge.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and South Korean Hanyang University have set their bar also high. Their new creation uses motion through the use of carbon nanotubes that are 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair and twisted into yarn (Photo University of Texas at Dallas). This »Twistron Harvester« bridges and displaces mechanical energy and converts it into electricity. No external battery or voltage is needed, human movement is sufficient. This could end the demand for batteries, says Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas.
You might be wondering how the washability of these clothes is. Well, in general it is possible, though not every smart textile needs to be washed weekly at 60 degrees. You don’t do this with other meaningful materials as well.
The idea of Smart Clothes has been conquering the fashion industry for several years. Some fashion companies offer outdoor jackets with controllable heating elements. Others, such as ambiotex, offer fitness t-shirts that offer training tips based on body-collected data. Google and Levis developed a smart denim jacket. Key piece of this jacket is a button that recognizes touch and gesture to operate the smartphone.
At bola we are convinced that our clothes will change more and more over the next few years and that fashion will become a different meaning.
Coco Chanel was probably right when she said that »fashion does not just exist in clothes. Fashion is in the sky, on the street, fashion has to do with ideas, how we live, what happens«.