E-textiles are not new, but most existing versions are often restricted in dimensions, functionality, have poor air permeability, and are too complex to mass-produce.
However, with the rapid advancement of electronic devices and fabrication technologies, electronic textiles are getting smarter.
Now, an international team of researchers from the University of Cambridge has produced a 46 inch fully woven smart textile. The curtain is loaded with LEDs, smart sensors, power storage…all integrated directly into the fabric. The fabric can be made using current textile-based industrial processes.
Researchers say that this development could lead to smart curtains that are TVs, interactive self-powered clothing, or energy harvesting carpets.
To make the technology compatible with woven fabric, each fiber component was coated with stretchable materials to use on textile manufacturing equipment. Some of the fiber-based components were also braided to improve reliability and durability. Finally, the multiple fiber components were connected using conductive adhesives and laser welding techniques.
The resulting fabric was able to operate as an electronic display, monitor various inputs, or even store energy for later use. The fabric could detect radiofrequency signals, touch, light, and temperature. The fabric can also be rolled up into large rolls of functional fabric.