Tag Archives: Smart Clothing

This conductive ink can make your clothes smarter

University of Tokyo researchers have created a new ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step.

As the dream of a world with everyone wearing smart clothing continues to become a reality, University of Tokyo researchers have developed a new conductive ink that will enable electronics to be printed on stretchable fabrics.

(Source: Someya Laboratory/University of Tokyo)

(Source: Someya Laboratory/University of Tokyo)

“Current printed electronics, such as transistors, light-emitted diodes, and solar panels, can be printed on plastic or paper substrates, but these substrates tend to be rigid or hard. The use of soft, stretchable material would enable a new generation of wearable devices that fit themselves to the human body,” the team led by Professor Takao Someya explains.

The ink can be easily printed on textiles and patterned in a single step. This is made possible through the combination of fluorine, an organic solvent and silver flakes, which when mixed, maintains its electricity even if stretched to more than three times its original length. As you can imagine, this makes it ideal for smart athletic apparel that monitors things like heart rate and movement.

Using their new ink, the researchers have developed their first prototype — a wristband muscle activity sensor — by printing an elastic conductor on a sportswear material and blending it with an organic transistor amplifier circuit. While it may not replace your fitness tracker just yet, the sensor can measure muscle activity by detecting muscle electrical potentials over an area of 4×4 square centimeters with nine electrodes placed 2 centimeters apart in a 3×3 grid.

Google and Levi’s to make smart clothing that controls your devices

Google wants to turn your jeans into actual smarty pants.

Controlling a tablet from the sleeve of your jacket or answering a call with a tap of your jeans aren’t something you can normally do — yet at least. However, if Google’s ATAP division has their way, you will. That’s because at I/O 2015, the company revealed its grand plan for making clothing much more connected, ultimately ushering in the first wave of “smarty” pants.


During their presentation, Google announced their initiative of weaving touch and gesture connectivity into any textile, such as denim and wool, using standard, industrial looms. Project Jacquard will enable everyday garments, and even furniture, to be transformed into interactive surfaces that can be used as trackpads and buttons to control existing apps, phone features and more.

While wrist-adorned devices have stolen most of the wearable spotlight as of late, the emergence of less invasive devices hold the true potential to disrupt the space — so much so that the number of electronic textiles has been projected to skyrocket over the next five years, with more than 10 million articles of smart clothing shipped annually. Undoubtedly, this figure will be possible with a little help from Google.


These wearable objects will work by receiving information directly from the conductive material and then transmitting the data to a nearby device or computer over low-powered Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, LEDs, haptics and other embedded outputs provide feedback to the user, seamlessly connecting them to the digital world.

In order to make this a reality, the first thing the team had to do was create a yarn that could be produced and woven into clothes on a mass scale. And so, ATAP has been working on a textile that combines ultra-thin metallic alloys and common synthetic yarn such as cotton, polyester or silk. The end result is a fabric that’s strong enough to be employed in common pieces of clothing and home interior items, all while looking good enough for actual use.


Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time conductive material has been woven into fabrics. If you recall, scientists in Shanghai recently developed battery technology that could be woven into cotton. However, Google has much bigger aspirations of making these sort of products less of a novelty and more of an everyday thing. And so, the tech giant has tapped Levi’s as Project Jacquard’s launch partner.

Levi’s believes that smart clothing could one day allow people to interact more with physical world around them instead of constantly staring down at their mobile screens. Not to mention, having a big name fashion brand behind them will surely help Google expedite the process in bringing smart clothing mainstream.

Whether this comes to fruition or not, one thing is for certain: the success of wearables hinges on unobtrusiveness. Take Tappur, for example, who is turning the human body into a musical instrument, electronics controller and gamepad. Or, Maker Katia Vega who introduced James Bond-like technology that lets users discreetly open applications, send preset messages and broadcast their location through a stroke of their hair.

Perhaps Google’s Ivan Poupyrev sums up the future of this technology best, “You would not call it a wearable, you would call it a jacket.”


Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page here.

These Arduino-based outfits flash to the beat of music

Created by a team of Cornell students, these smart garments have the front page of Adafruit written all over them.

Smart garments are one of the wearables that Gartner has billed as having the greatest potential for growth. A testament to the limitless possibilities of that space is a recent project by a group of undergrads from Cornell University. The students have created a set of embedded outfits with vivid, luminescent panels that can pulse to the beat of music.

(Source: Cornell Chronicle)

(Source: Cornell Chronicle)

“This collection is inspired by the future – and present – of wearable technology being more and more integrated into fashion and daily life,” explains co-creator Eric Beaudette. “These garments depict our vision of fashion of the future, having increased function and compatibility with devices, such as smartphones.”

Surely, anyone wearing these fabricated pieces would turn some heads with its optical fiber cloth illuminated by controllable RGB LEDs and strips of electroluminescent tape. An Arduino (which we assume would be an ATmega32U4 based LilyPad) sewn into each garment enables the lights to accurately brighten to the tunes.

(Source: Cornell Chronicle)

(Source: Cornell Chronicle)

The team noted that maintaining harmony between the materials, technologies and construction can be difficult task. “Garments with circuitry and other technologies add layers of complexity, especially since these technologies were not originally designed for use with clothing.”

Report: People are talking about wearable tech

According to an analysis of over 8 million online conversations about wearable tech over the last year, there has been a 190% increase around the topic. Brilliant Noise recently carried out some desk research and used data supplied by Brandwatch to examine recent discussions around wearable device.


When users of wearable devices were asked how useful these gadgets have been, 82% of them believe that wearable tech has enhanced their lives. If you ask us, that’s a pretty good number for a product category that has only recently taken off. As previously reported on Bits & Pieceswearable tech is projected to experience a surge in the coming years while Atmel will remain smack dab in the middle of the revolution — both in terms of hardware and social conversation.

Considering the 190% increase in mentions of wearable tech over the past year, more people are exhibiting interest than are not. With its jump in online discussions around wearables from 2013 to 2014, Google Glass was the most talked about product, closely followed by Fitbit, Nike Fuelband and of course, the recently-announced iWatch.

According to the report, Google Glass accounted for about half (51%) of the conversation as the smart glasses garnered over 2.8 million mentions. Fitbit, which has been talked about almost 1.5 million times, made up 27% of the wearable conversation volume with Nike’s Fuelband just behind at 11%. While a lot of the buzz is around the newly-unveiled iWatch and highly-popular Google Glass, the study showed that people are more likely to be actively talking about purchasing a Fitbit and Pebble, which have become quite ubiquitous amongst “affluent modern city-dwellers.”

Most Discussed

Furthermore, 32% of U.S. adults have or plan to purchase wearable tech within two years while nearly 61% of the current wearable tech market is sports and activity trackers — some of which powered by AVR or ARM-core 32-bit chips.

“One of the interesting things that came from this research – perhaps that we weren’t expecting – is that chatter about wearable tech is no longer confined to the water cooler in the engineering department. Discussion about wearables has become far more commonplace in mainstream society, and we’re seeing more types of people talking about it, and in more kinds of places. Just like with smart phones or tablets almost a decade ago, we’re on the cusp of a cultural shift that reflects our changing attitudes towards how we live with technology,” explained Natalie Meehan, Marketing Insights Analyst at Brandwatch.


Most wearable discussions are coming from the United States with 70% of mentions and the UK – which actually only accounts for less than 10% of the mentions — with men making up nearly two-thirds (65%) of the conversation. However, the study found that women are more positive than men when discussing ownership of wearables (women’s commentary is 17% positive, unlike men whose commentary is 12% positive).

Wearable technology doesn’t stop at the wrist or eyes either. In fact, clothing and accessories embedded with computer and advanced electronic technology is among one of the fastest growing segments. In 2015, the smart clothing worldwide market revenue is projected to be worth $1.24 billion. As the report notes, ‘smarter’ clothing will likely be used not only used for health and wellness tracking, but for industrial, military and infotainment purposes as well; reason being, embedded clothing itself is seen to offer a more ubiquitous experience than separate sports monitoring accessories, potentially making the latter obsolete.

Beyond providing users with real-time data about their health or an augmented view of their world, wearable tech will continue play an integral role in the Internet of Things, which refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices (including those adorned to our bodies) link to each other via the web. As this market continues to take shape, you can expect to find a number of Atmel’s versatile microcontrollers (MCUs) powering a wide range of innovative platforms and wearable devices.

You can read the Brandwatch report or check out its infographic in their entirety here.