Researchers at Purdue University have created a technique to make smart fabrics that can harvest energy from Wi-Fi networks and radio waves. In turn, this can energise body monitors. What makes the technology unique is that the fabrics are completely water repellent, washable and breathable.
While we’ve seen wearable devices transcend digital healthcare, they usually require a battery that needs to be regularly charged or replaced, and can’t be washed. This is where smart fabrics have the upper hand.
The device works by sewing omniphobic silk-based lightweight and stretchy coils, consisting of a silk-nanocarbon composite, into fabrics. The coils in turn capture energy. In bid to make the fabrics water repellent, the researchers spray them with hydrophobic molecules.
This coating doesn’t interfere with the flexibility and breathability if the fabric. Additionally, they can be washed without loosing its function. Moreover, the scalability of the technology means it can be manufactured in large-scale sewing factories.
Ramses Martinez, a researcher involved in the study, in a Purdue press release shared:
By spray-coating smart clothes with highly hydrophobic molecules, we are able to render them repellent to water, oil and mud,
These smart clothes are almost impossible to stain and can be used underwater and washed in conventional washing machines without damaging the electronic components sewn on their surface.
Such wearable devices, powered by ubiquitous Wi-Fi signals, will make us not only think of clothing as just a garment that keeps us warm but also as wearable tools designed to help us in our daily life, monitor our health and protect us from accidents,
I envision smart clothes will be able to transmit information about the posture and motion of the wearer to mobile apps, allowing machines to understand human intent without the need of other interfaces, expanding the way we communicate, interact with devices, and play video games.
The Med-Tech World conference, which follows a successful digital event in 2020, will run from 18th-19th November 2021 and will highlight innovations and developments in digital health across the globe. With so many countries realising the potential for exponential growth, Med-Tech World will address the opportunities and challenges driving this multi-million forum – embracing the potential for technological innovation to change the face of medicine in this global sector. Register your interest here!