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Smart textiles and clothing: opportunities for providing comfort, functionality and insight into consumer behaviour and lifestyles

This 51-page independently researched report provides valuable insight into the smart textiles and clothing industry which is set to transform the health care, sports and fitness, and workwear sectors.

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Smart textiles and clothing: opportunities for providing comfort, functionality and insight into consumer behaviour and lifestyles

Smart textiles and clothing are expected to transform the health care, sports and fitness, and workwear sectors, according to a report in issue 195 of Textile Outlook International from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.

Clothing is considered to be an ideal platform for the integration of smart technologies as humans spend 90% of their lives in contact with textiles.

To date, most products within the market have been tailored towards sport and fitness applications and military uses–where they are capable of monitoring the vital signs of soldiers and can help to improve the safety of soldiers in combat.


But there is also huge potential for using smart textiles and clothing to transform patient care and improve safety and efficiency in the workplace.

In the health care sector, smart clothing enables patients to be monitored remotely and this could help to reduce the cost of health care, free up beds in hospitals, and provide a more comfortable experience for patients.

In the workwear sector, light sources can be incorporated into clothing to improve the visibility of workers operating in poor lighting conditions, and sensors may be used to monitor the locations of workers such as police personnel and firefighters.

Furthermore, smart textiles and clothing products have the potential to increase efficiency in the workplace, particularly in automated production processes and supply chains, by using sensors to collect data relating to the efficiency of workers and machinery.

However, a number of challenges need to be overcome for the industry to fulfil its potential–notably those relating to environmental sustainability, legislation and standards.

Also smart textiles and clothing typically require several components and are therefore complex and challenging to design, develop and produce.

To tackle the complexity of smart textiles and clothing, some companies, such as Nike and Under Armour, have established innovation divisions or “incubators”. These are specialist departments which focus on aspects of product development such as the integration of power sources and waterproof technology.

Some explorations are being made into the development of electrically conductive fibres and yarns and the potential uses of graphene–which is considered to be a highly conductive material. Developments also include stretchable smart textiles, reflecting the emergence of technologies such as stretchable sensors and stretchable conductive inks.

In fact, many experts believe that, such is the pace of development, textile computing products may be in common usage in five to ten years–by which time there may not be a need for mobile telephones as they may be replaced by functional clothing.

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Textile Outlook International subscription

Six times a year, Textile Outlook International provides up to 200 pages of expert comment and analysis. A subscription provides an overview of the global fibre, textile and apparel industries. It is essential reading for senior executives in the fibre, textile and apparel industries – and for anyone who is not involved in the industry, but needs to quickly gain an understanding of the key issues.

Textile Outlook International contains information including:

  • country profiles;
  • company profiles;
  • trends in world textile and apparel trade and production;
  • trends in world imports and exports of textiles and apparel;
  • product innovations; and
  • business development opportunities.

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Smart textiles and clothing: opportunities for providing comfort, functionality and insight into consumer behaviour and lifestyles

Significant developments have been made in the commercialisation of wearable technologies such as fitness trackers and smart watches, and such developments have spurred innovation in smart textiles and clothing and the creation of products for use in a wide range of applications. In fact, such is the success of these efforts that the market for smart textiles and clothing is attracting competition from a number of large corporations as well as smaller start-ups.

Many advances have been made in the development of smart textile and clothing products for sports and fitness applications. However, there is potential for using smart textiles and clothing to transform patient care and to improve safety and efficiency in the workplace.

Smart textiles and clothing also provide a means of conveniently gathering large amounts of data about consumers—including biometric data, and data relating to movement and temperature. Such data provide brands and retailers with invaluable insight into the lifestyles of consumers and the ways in which products are used after the point of sale. The gathering of such data can also be of benefit to consumers, and investigations are being made into ways in which consumers can take ownership of their data in order to sell them to third parties in exchange for rewards.


However, the development and manufacture of smart textile and clothing products is far from straightforward, and some technical issues have yet to be addressed. One key challenge facing the industry is the complexity of the manufacture of smart textile and clothing products—which typically comprise a large number of different materials and components. In order to overcome this challenge, some companies are exploring the integration of sensors and electrical components into conventional trims.

Another issue is a need for small and extremely efficient power sources for use in conjunction with smart textiles and clothing. However, to address this issue much research is being conducted into new materials such as graphene.





Electrically conductive fibres and yarns
Electrically conductive polymers and inks
Sensors and actuators
Electrical components
Microcontrollers and microprocessors
Power sources


Research and development
Value of the market


Smaller companies and the role of venture capitalists


New revenue streams and consumer engagement
Consumer insight and product testing
Open systems
Environmental sustainability
Legislation and standards
Impact of product complexity on design, development and manufacture
Data collection and security

Smart textiles and clothing www.textilesintelligence.com

iv © Textiles Intelligence Limited 2018


AiQ Motion and BioMan+
Belginova, Empa, Kjus, Osmotex and Schoeller Textil: Hydro_Bot
Bonbouton: graphene oxide thermal sensors and sensors for monitoring breathing rates
Carré Technologies (Hexoskin): Bio-Monitor system and Astroskin
Clim8: Clim8
Edema: Edema Stocking
Empa: photonic textiles for the treatment of newborn babies who suffer from jaundice
Far Eastern New Century (FENC): DynaFeed
Fhoss Technology: illuminated personal protective equipment (PPE)
Footfalls & Heartbeats: smart textile sensors
LifeSense Group: Carin and Wil smart underwear for incontinence monitoring
Carin system
Wil system
Ministry of Supply: Mercury Intelligent Heated Jacket
Myant: SKIIN
ProGlove: Mark
Sensoria: Sensoria fitness apparel, socks and shoes
Servier: Cardioskin T-shirt
StretchSense: stretch sensors and smart garments
Teijin Limited: smart firefighters’ apparel
Volt Smart Yarns: Volt Smart Yarns
Wearable X: Nadi X yoga leggings


List of figures

Figure 1: Woven Wearable Motherboard (Smart Shirt)
Figure 2: Sensoria short sleeve T-shirt with snap on module
Figure 3: Diagram of Astroskin system
Figure 4: Illuminated pyjamas
Figure 5: Carin system
Figure 6: Mark glove
Figure 7: Sensoria Fitness Socks and anklet
Figure 8: Sensoria Smart Running Shoe
Figure 9: Cardioskin T-shirt
Figure 10: Stretch sensing element
Figure 11: SUPA Sports Bra
Figure 12: Teijin firefighter’s uniform and smart protective system (SPS)
Figure 13: Nadi X yoga leggings


Robin Anson, Editorial Director, Textiles Intelligence

Robin Anson is Editorial Director of Textiles Intelligence and a leading worldwide authority on textile and apparel industry strategy and trade issues with a career spanning 40 years. Previously having worked for The Economist for seven years, he founded Textiles Intelligence in 1992. As well as his role in Textiles Intelligence, Robin writes for textile and apparel publications, frequently speaks at textile industry conferences around the world, and is a commentator on textile industry issues in the financial press and on radio and television.