With the invention of technology-laden fabrics, otherwise known as smart textiles, we are able to benefit from multifunctional materials.
Smart textiles, also known as E-textiles, smart garments, tech fabrics, and smart fabrics, are materials based on technology that integrate advanced features beneficial to the wearer. In an interview with Forbes, Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, smart textiles and wearable technologies expert stated, “what makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow.” And as crazy as it might sound, having computers and technology literally integrated into our clothing is not only acceptable but may one day be the norm.
“Smart textiles can be broken into two different categories: Aesthetic and Performance Enhancing,” says Forbes. And because of this, these technologically advanced textiles are being utilized by several different industries. Medical, beauty, sports, military, and fashion are taking advantage of such innovations to benefit its users in a way that’s seamlessly integrated into our lives. Excited to see what developments lay ahead, we’ll be exploring a few fabrics that may be in our closets, homes, and doctors offices sooner rather than later.
1. Light Up Fabric
Imagine leaving reflectors at home when you go out for an evening stroll, or skipping the candles in favor of your curtains because there’s a material that can do all of that for you. From the LumiGram site: “The Luminous Fiber Optic Fabric is a fabric that literally lights up; It is made of ultra-thin optical fibers, directly woven with synthetic fibers.” The decor line is perfect for special occasions or for eliciting that wow factor from friends, and while the clothing line is geared more toward the raver or party goer, we could definitely imagine this integrated into regular clothing, like workout gear, sneakers, and more, in the future.
2. Drug Releasing Material
The University of Washington is onto a breakthrough in preventing women from being infected with HIV and it may come from a carefully designed material. They’ve created a “medicated, electrospun fabric” that has the potential to release the antiretrovital drugs faster than other methods. From the Fierce Pharma website, based on study results published in the August issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “UW bioengineers spun topical drugs into silklike fibers that quickly dissolve when exposed to moisture, releasing higher levels of antiretroviral drug in less time than topical gels or rings.” In addition to this, researchers are also hoping to develop an HIV preventing tampon that could be inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse.
3. Moisturizing Textiles
Thanks to advancements in smart textiles, there may come a time when you no longer have to apply lotions and moisturizers in the traditional way. JuveTex Rejuvenating Fabric is a revolutionary way to hydrate without creams or chemicals. According to the site, “The skin moisturizing capabilities are built permanently into the fabric. In one square inch there are over 20,000 microfibers which makes the fabric ultra-luxurious.” In addition to that, JuveTex, founded on medical science, “is a proprietary weave pattern and blend of natural cellulosic fibers and synthetic microfibers. It is uniquely constructed to channel moisture away from the skin’s surface via a hydrophobic transport layer to the soft absorbent backing layer where it then evaporates.” Now that’s a pair of pajamas we could get behind.
4. Temperature Regulating Fabric
Absorbing and releasing heat, textiles from Outlast allow its users to regulate body temperature with ease. The company utilizes these fabrics for a variety of applications, including bedding, apparel, footwear, seating, and body armor. Rather than wicking heat away during slumber, this company’s materials actually feature proactive heat management technology that has been “tested and proven to alleviate spikes in skin temperature that cause sleep disturbances.” And when it comes to clothing, Outlast claims that the wearer “will feel just right, no matter what the activity or season.” Reducing perspiration by up to 70 percent in some cases, this is a welcome technology so far.
As you can see, smart textiles are beautiful, exciting, practical, and even life-saving. With such amazing advancements on the horizon we can’t wait to see what the future of fabrics has in store. What do you think about tech materials and their role in society? Share your thoughts with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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