Three incredible uses for smart clothes
The Internet of Things has had a huge impact on the way many industries are approaching the future, with lots of research centred around IoT, and the success of smartwatches has shown the clear potential in wearable technology.
Combining IoT with clothing makes a lot of sense, as it takes advantage of items that are on our person for long periods of the day. Over the next few years, wearable technology, and particularly smart clothing, is likely to grow substantially, with various applications for this tech.
One clear advantage of smart clothing is the ability to monitor the wearer’s health levels, by utilising clothing that is close to the heart, such as sports bras and undershirts. By adding connectivity to these items, data can be collected and monitored using IoT.
This concept is currently being developed by a tech company called Emglare, whose smart clothes will be equipped with an ECG and heart rate sensor. The clothing will collect data, which can be viewed through a specially-designed app on the user’s phone, allowing the wearer to closely monitor their health and fitness levels.
Collecting data through clothing in this way also has big implications for football. Over recent seasons, teams are relying more and more on the use of data to analyse and better understand the game, and specifically, how players are performing.
Smart clothing is capable of harvesting even greater depth of data on players’ fitness levels during a match, by monitoring pulse, blood pressure, sugar, oxygen, CO2 levels, sweating and hydration. Coaches would be able to make informed in-game decisions from this live data, as well as analyse player performances after games.
In the future, we may also see football boots equipped with embedded sensors that measure each step a player takes, while also measuring the strength, angle, and impact of each contact with the ball.
Collecting data is not the only application for smart clothing, which also has the potential to collect or even generate power, using solar cells or kinetic energy.
In Japan, researchers are currently developing an amazing solar cell that can be stitched easily into clothing. While fashion designers have tried similar concepts in the past, the size and rigidity of solar panels has prevented them from being used in a practical manner.
These solar cells however, are incredibly flexible and bafflingly small. Measuring just three millionth of a metre thick, the solar cells can be easily stitched into clothes like any other fabric. This innovative concept is still a few years away from being commercially available, but represents the huge potential of smart clothing.
A similar concept is also being developed in Germany, where another research team has created a small device in shoes that can generate power using movement. While this kinetic device can only generate a small amount of power at the moment, it further demonstrates the amazing applications for smart clothing in the future.