The Institute - June 2019 - 8

E-textile expert
Jesse Jur [left] and
designer Allison
Bowles discuss
a garment being
designed to monitor
infant's biometrics.

Major retailers are getting in on
garments with built-in electronics


EARABLE technology,

once the domain of
rigid fitness wristbands
and health monitors, is
showing more of its softer side. High-tech
companies and designers are increasingly moving to incorporate sensors to
create smart clothing. By simply touching the cuff of a shirt, for example, a
wearer might activate smartphone apps.
Google has teamed up with the Levi
Strauss Co. to offer a clothing line, Jacquard
by Google, that has conductive thread
woven in. Its new Commuter X jacket,
which sells for US $350, includes a
battery-operated snap tag that lights up
when the wearer's smartphone receives
a text message and vibrates when a ridehailing car arrives.
At last year's Winter Olympics, held in
PyeongChang, South Korea, members of
the U.S. Olympic team wore Ralph Lauren-branded parkas and bomber jackets
that featured heat-conducting ink made
with carbon and silver that was bonded
to the garment's lining. The strands of
ink were connected to a battery pack,


JUN 2019



which kept the athletes warm for up to
11 hours. The coats' wearers could adjust
the temperature with a mobile app.
More items are on the way. The
smart clothing market share is expected
to exceed $4 billion by 2024, according
to Global Market Insights.
E-textile expert Jesse Jur talked to The
Institute about the state of smart garments,
including some of the challenges still to be
overcome. Jur is an associate professor
of textile engineering, chemistry, and
science at North Carolina State University's Wilson College of Textiles, in Raleigh.
He has published several research articles
on e-textiles that are available in the IEEE
Xplore Digital Library.

The Internet of Things is starting to
make its way into the textile business,
Jur says. There also have been improvements in health-monitoring applications that can sense the wearer's body
temperature and make automatic
adjustments in the clothing.
"Traditionally smart garments were

made for sports and fitness purposes
as well as for biomedical monitoring,
to take various measurements," he
says. "What has evolved is a better
understanding of that data, new ways
of gathering information about the user
other than from a smartphone app, and
improvements in integrating technologies
more seamlessly into garments."
Thanks to work by standards organizations, the washability of the garments is
improving, according to Jur. The Levi's
jacket, for example, can withstand up to
10 washes, although the snap tag must
be removed before laundering.
Jur says his Nano-EXtended Textiles
(NEXT) research group has historically
worked on devising materials that could
be used to help bind electronics to textiles
or to have conductive yarns sewn into
knitted structures. Now the NEXT group
is working on automating the process of
integrating electronics into the textiles in
an affordable way, to speed up production
and lower costs-two major concerns for
smart-garment manufacturers.

Producing textiles is an automated process, but incorporating electronics into
clothing is not. Adding individual components to the garments and handling
variations of the electronics in the design
requires the dexterity of human hands.
Because the process is so labor-intensive,
the garments are | continued on page TI-10


Forget Smart Watches-
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The Institute - June 2019

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