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e-textile (electronic textile)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

An e-textile is a fabric developed with electronics in it to enable conductivity and the use of various technologies. Electronic textiles may be embedded with sensors, batteries, LEDs and hands-free computing devices, depending on the fabric’s purpose. An e-textile is usually created by including conductive materials in the fabric, for example, weaving a silver thread into cloth.

Some e-textiles are designed to support wearable computing technologies, while others are created to add new functionality to non-technical applications. E-textiles for smart clothing and interior design applications could, for example, change color or light up. Sportswear embedded with sensors and other technologies could improve performance through controlling wind resistance, regulating body temperature or monitoring the composition of an athlete’s perspiration.

One of the most promising area for applications of e-textiles is smart medical devices. Sensors in the fabric could monitor a patient’s respiration, heart rate, pulse and blood pressure, record data and notify a caregiver if there were signs of issues that required attention. E-textile patches could monitor blood levels of medication and deliver a dose as required. Sensors themselves can also be made of e-textile material, so that their inclusion in a garment is almost undetectable to the wearer.

Watch a video about using e-textiles to control computers, televisions and home appliances:

This was last updated in October 2018

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