Smart fabrics without batteries to control health


Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique for creating smart parts that can get electricity from nearby Wi-Fi networks and radio waves in a process known as magnetic resonance imaging. This energy can be used to power on-board electrical systems, including body monitors. The fabrics are water-repellent, breathable and fully machine-washable, making them practical for use in everyday life.

The myriad of existing portable devices make it easy to control health on the go and can usually communicate wirelessly with smartphones. However, they usually need a battery that needs to be charged or replaced regularly and certainly cannot be washed in a washing machine like conventional clothes. This latest technology blurs the line between portable health monitors and regular clothing, and the researchers behind it predict a day when we all wear “smart clothing”.

The technology consists of sewing omniphobic coils based on silk, which consist of a composite composed of silk nanocarbon, in fabrics. The coils collect energy and are elastic and light. Researchers also spray tissues with hydrophobic molecules to make them water repellent.

“By coating smart clothing with highly hydrophobic molecules, we can repel it in water, oil and mud,” Ramses Martinez, a researcher involved in the study, said in a press release of Purdue. “These sleek clothes are almost impossible to stain and can be worn underwater and washed in conventional washing machines without damaging the electronic components sewn to the surface.”

The coating does not make the clothes restrictive and the garments retain flexibility and perspiration. Excitingly, they can be machine washed without any loss of function. Another positive aspect is the scalability of the technology, which can be manufactured in large-scale sewing facilities.

“These portable devices, powered by ubiquitous Wi-Fi signals, will make us think not only of clothes as a piece that keeps us warm, but also as usable tools designed to help us in our daily lives, control our health and protect us from accidents, ”Martinez said. “I imagine that smart clothing will be able to transmit information about the posture and movement of the user to mobile applications, allowing machines to understand human intention without the need for other interfaces, expanding our way of communicating – interact with devices and play video games.

Watch some videos showing the new technology below:

Study a Nano Energy: Washable, breathable and stretchable electronic textiles fed wirelessly by omniphobic silk coils

Via: Purdue University

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