Smart textiles are textiles that either have electrically conductive fibers running or contain miniaturized electronic components that are integrated into the fabric. Microprocessors or textile-based sensors and actuators can also be the source of enhanced functionalities. By means of electronics, smart textiles are able to show a reaction to particular body functions and send specific signals. The collected data is usually sent via Bluetooth to a mobile device and processed in associated apps.
Areas of application are primarily sportswear, workwear and healthcare. However, smart textiles are also finding favor in architecture for interior design or protective measures in construction. In medical technology, the intelligent textiles are establishing themselves in diagnostics as well as in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients. Due to the high wearing comfort, it is possible to record, process and analyze vital parameters. In rehabilitation, the smart textiles can be used to measure muscle contractions and movement sequences. This supports the optimization of therapies.
A challenge in the development of smart textiles is the optimal unification of two industries in functionality, design and comfort – textiles and electronics. The issue of sustainability also plays a major role in this regard. The textile should not be a single-use item, but should rather be washable and durable to ensure reuse despite the electronic components. Data protection/security and product safety are also high priorities, especially for smart textiles used in medicine. The focus is on protecting personal or health-related data during collection or further processing. Therefore, misuse can be eliminated.