Wearable technology has moved from the realm of science fiction into present day reality. While watches, fitness monitors, and timing chips in running shoes have been around for quite some time, product designers are now incorporating technology into textiles and clothing. Textile innovations are allowing companies like Columbia and Uniqlo to use heat generating fabrics to provide additional protection in cold-weather gear such as boots and winter coats. These materials help regulate body temperature by reflecting body heat and wicking away moisture.
Meanwhile, sensors weaved into fabrics help monitor the wearer’s physical condition. For instance, Numetrex, Pure Lime, and Lululemon have created sports bras and running shirts with heart rate monitors sewn into the garments. These clothes provide a more comfortable and unobtrusive alternative to the traditional monitor band. Sensors in clothing are also being tested for medical use, with “intelligent t-shirts” providing a non-invasive way to track a patient’s vital signs and location. Similar technology in new infant clothing allows parents to monitor their children’s breathing, temperature, and body movement, and alerts them on their smart phones of any changes or potential warning signs of sudden infant death syndrome.
Many of this technology is still in the early stages of development, but it has the potential to create truly innovative products. High-tech “smart” clothes can offer health and safety benefits while eliminating the need for extraneous gadgets and equipment.
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