San Jose, California (PRWEB) April 23, 2012
Follow us on LinkedIn Given the ubiquity of textiles in our immediate environment, textile structures represent an attractive platform for integration and encapsulation of sensing, computing and communication capabilities, in furtherance of the envisioned goal of pervasive computing. The focus on building an intelligent environment into everyday items is leading to the rapid evolution of wearable computers and electronics, which in turn is poised to amply benefit the market for smart fabrics and interactive textiles. The market also stands to benefit from technology developments and innovations in the field of integration of electronic devices into textiles at the yarn level and performance and functionality improvements in integrated textile sensors, switches, interconnects etc. For instance, miniaturization of capacitive fabric sensors enables easy integration into substrate fabrics. In the healthcare sector, efforts are also being directed towards developing nanotechnology-based 3D textile structures called Net Shape Nonwovens (NSNs), the porous nature of which enhances cell growth and thereby acting as bone substitutes.
Noteworthy innovations in the marketplace till date includes photovoltaic fabrics for use in photovoltaic structures such as, solar-powered tents, canopy covers for parking lots, charging stations, awnings for solar shadings, sailboat sails, truck tarp, boat covers etc, and illuminated fashion for the consumer market comprising of illuminated textiles containing hundreds of LEDs embroidered onto the fabric. Other innovations include smart bandages, based on stretchable circuit technology, to detect the presence of specific proteins in the wound, thereby monitoring the healing process. Smart shoe insoles detect pressure marks in diabetic patients for preventing ulcers and wounds. Respiratory sensors incorporated in baby clothes to help prevent crib death. Newer avenues for growth will stem from emerging applications such as in the military, construction, transportation, and healthcare among others. As electronics, computers and computing technologies gradually dissolve into material environments and familiar form factors, beginning with clothing, furnishings to often used gadgets, its opportunities galore in the marketplace in the medium to long-term period.
Continued fall in prices of electronic components and textile materials, advancements in micro electronics and nanotechnology, and unique requirements of specific end-users, will drive growth in the market in the upcoming years. Investments, including venture capital funds, in smart textile technologies are expected to increase in the upcoming years, as commoditization in the conventional textile industry begins to clog distribution networks and supply chains and constrict profit margins forcing textile manufacturers to look for newer ways to beat competition. Developing countries with high levels of industrialization will move into the spotlight especially in the field of technical textiles.
In the military end-use sector, demand for smart fabrics and interactive textiles hinges critically upon the spending outlook of governments worldwide and Europes debt crisis, not surprisingly is casting a long shadow of worry. Also, national debt in the United States is reaching a symbolic high, almost equaling the value of goods and services produced in the economy. The ensuing debate over widening government deficits and need for spending cuts, is likely to result in possible shrinkage in defense budgets in the US and Europe. New spending limits will likely lower the defense budget baseline in US and Europe and this thereby will directly impact defense spending on supplies, such as, protective clothing, blankets, camping equipment, arms and ammunitions, among others.