Application of Smart Textiles has Changed World!

Md Mahedi Hasan

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Suppose you are at a party and your cloth colors are changing with the beat of the music. You may be thinking that it could be possible theoretically or possible in a parallel universe. But in the era of the 21st-century nano-textile revolution made this possible by making textile smart. In this article, we will know the application of smart textiles.

Let’s start the introduction to the application of smart textiles and how it has changed the world!

What is smart textiles?

Smart textiles Definition: The word “smart textiles” refers to intelligent or smart materials in textiles. The concept of smart textile material was introduced in Japan for the first time in 1989. Silk thread has shape memory. It was the first textile material labeled as smart textile. Textiles can able to sense stimuli from the environment. When clothing can adapt and react to them by integration of functionalities via its textile structure is called smart textile. Smart textile is also popular as intelligence textiles.

Smart Textiles

Smart textiles are materials and structures that can react via the active control mechanism. Those surroundings conditions are called stimuli.  The stimulus and response are electrical, thermal, chemical, as well as magnetic. The clothing having an advanced smart textile featured new garments that can provide interactive reactions by receiving and sending signals, processing information, and actuating the responses are known as smart clothing.

Application of Smart textile in Suit
Fig: Smart Suit

Smart clothing is capable of showing a significant change in not only mechanical properties like color, shape, and stiffness; but also, in their thermal, or electromagnetic properties, in response to the stimuli. The whole smart textile clothing system is composed of different apparatuses and materials like sensors, as well as electronic devices together.

A major development of smart textile is that it can change its fabric color with changes in clothes made of conductive polymers. That changes its color when it will get electromagnetic signals. Then the fabrics regulate the surface temperature of clothing in order to achieve physiological comfort for the wearer.

Classification of Smart Textiles

There are three kinds of e-textiles, these are as follows:

  1. Passive Smart textiles: It can only sense the environment.
  2. Active Smart textiles: It can sense the stimuli from the environment as well as react to them.
  3. Very Smart Textiles: It has the gift to adapt its behavior to the circumstances.

Smart Textiles Functions:

The smart textile has 5 functions in smart textile clothing. It could be categorized as follows:

Intelligent Unit NameSmart Textiles Functions
Sensors:The sensor transforms data or signal into another data or signal. It only can be read and executed by a predefined reader. It must be a real device or a person. Sensors can measure bio-signals such as heart and respiration rate, temperature, as well as motion.
Data Processing:It is one of the complicated parts of smart textile. Case, It is the main bottleneck at present is the interpretation of the data. In smart Textile, sensors can provide a huge amount of data. But, textile material in itself doesn’t have computing power at all. Researchers are trying to generate power from the fiber. If it could be possible, the application of smart textiles will grow up faster than now.
Actuators:From sensors, Actuators respond to the impulse result. It helps to make things move. It releases substances, makes noise, and does many other things. Shape memory textile materials are the best ones in this area.
Storage:Some smart clothing often needs some storage capacity. Storage helps sensing, data processing, actuation, and communication. But it needs electrical power.
Communication:Smart clothing has many communication faces. It’s used to pass information between the individual elements of smart clothing as well as the environment to the wearer to clothing.
Smart Textiles Functions

Application of Smart Textiles:

As Smart textiles have better wearability, it’s commercially used in civilian, military, medical as well as many high-risk industries. Here are listed below some applications of smart textiles:

  • In the military, smart clothing’s used for military camouflage, which allows controllable color-changing camouflage which gives advantages to the fighter in the war zone.
  • Further, the environment of hazards can be identified by the color changes in the radiation zone.
  • Photo-chromic umbrellas and photochromic T-shirts are the best application of smart textiles in the fashion industry.
  • In the medical, smart textile is used in the medical monitoring systems. For example as in baby apparel to monitor whether the baby has a fever through clothing color changes.

Here, we are going to discuss the revolutionary application of smart textiles that already has Changed the World.

1. Gore-Tex Smart Fabric

Gore-Tex Smart Fabric Structure
Fig: Gore-Tex Structure

In 1978, Gore Company designed Gore-Tex, which was the first smart textiles fabric. This application of smart textiles started a new era of smart clothing. It has the capability of letting moisture flow in one direction. The fabric membrane contains Ten billion pores density per square inch.

In simple words, pore density is on the microscopic level, where a water droplet is 20000 thousand times larger than pores and 700 times larger than a water vapor molecule. Therefore, it allows perspiration and water vapor to escape from the body. This property makes it waterproof, windproof as well as breathable. Additionally, Gore-Tex Smart Fabric repels insects that can affect the membrane.

2. Wearable Motherboard

Wearable MotherBord
Fig: Wearable Motherboard

In 1996 US Navy, founded Georgia Tech, a pioneering institute that integrates electronics, to develop a Wearable Motherboard. Lately, Georgia Tech Wearable Motherboard was commercially introduced as a Smart shirt. The wearable motherboard in the application of smart textiles has made revolutionary changes in military textiles.

That was manufactured to use in combat conditions. Smart military camouflage clothing uses optical fibers that can detect bullet wounds. During combat conditions, Special sensors could interconnect to monitor vital signs. In this computerized shirt, medical sensing devices are attached to the body. As a result, it creates a flexible motherboard.

smart GWTM bullet proof vest
Fig: GTWM Bullet Proof Vest

This Wearable motherboard is woven. Consequently, plastic optical fibers and other special threads are integrated into the structure of the GTWM. The GTWM easily identifies the actual location of physical injury. Then transmits the information in milliseconds to determine who needs immediate attention. As a result, it’s easy to save lives during a critical combat situation.

GTWM garments used various types of sensors that depend on the wearer’s needs. It can be customized for individual users. Such as fire-fighter smart garments having a sensor to monitor oxygen levels as well as hazardous gas levels. The smart textiles shirt can be used in a large variety of fields. Currently, Sensatex Company commercially manufactures textile products for medical monitoring, disease monitoring, infant monitoring, athletics, and military uses.

3. Smart Running Shoes

Application of smart textile in Shoes
Fig: Smart shoe Structure

Adidas’s introduced commercially the first smart shoes to the market in 2004. The smart shoes consist of a sensor, microprocessor, electric motor, and the actual smart electronic textile material. It can adjust its cushioning system. That depends on what surface the wearers are running over or walking.

This smart shoe sensor has 20 MHz processors that can read 20,000 readings per second. These help to make 10,000 calculations in a second. A small motor in the heel can change the tension of a metal cord that assists the user. Additionally, it has a shock absorption mechanism that is appropriate to assist the runners.

Smart Shocks
Fig: Smart Shocks

Recently, the Nike brand manufactured the latest smart socks and shoes. That uses a lot of special sensors that can track the wears’ interactive activities. It can communicate to android devices with information. Via the android applications, the wearer can receive the information on running conditions, speed, total distance run, and other data to his mobile. It’s also able to transmit the data which can automatically upload and post a status on Facebook automatically.

Many other researchers work with smart shocks and shoes. In near future, collaborations of the application of smart textiles with smart shock and shoes will help us to make a revolution in smart clothing.

4. Biosensor Smart Underwear

application of smart textile in underwear
Fig: Biosensor on Woman’s Smart Underwear

Nano-bioelectronics researchers invented direct screen-printing of biological sensors onto garments in the University of California San Diego’s Laboratory. The researchers ensure the sensors maintain tight contact with the skin by printing sensors on the elastic bands in the underwear.

The elastic band sensing electrodes detect enzymes called NADH and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Case these are associated with several biomedical processes. Via indicating by these sensors could withstand the stress of a wearer’s daily activities such as flexing and stretching. Biosensor on Woman Smart Underwear has opened a new dimension of possibilities in the application of the smart textiles sector.

5. Smart Bra

Application of smart textile in Smart Bra
Fig: Smart Bra

The smart bra is one of the best examples of smart clothing as well as the most useful application of smart textiles. It improves overall bra wear comforts to the women. Australian Wallace et. al at the University of Wollongong developed a smart bra. This smart bra can change its properties in response to breast movement. Therefore, it provides better support to women’s work activity. Today smart bras could be monitored from mobile applications.

The Smart bra is effective in preventing breast pain and sag by tightening and loosening its straps or stiffening as well as relaxing its cups to restrict breast motion. Usually, Smart manufactures by conductive polymer coated fabrics. The smart fabric can change its elasticity in response to data collected that how much strain they are under. Consequently, it’s capable of instantly tightening and loosening its straps or stiffening cups by detecting excessive movement.

5. Motion Detecting Smart Pants

Motion Detecting Smart Pants
Fig: Smart Pants

Virginia Polytechnic Institute co-ordinately with State University in Blacksburg’s research teams developed a pair of pants as an example of smart fabric definition.

Example of Smart pant definition: The specialty of this smart pant is that its smart fabric can sense the movement, rotation, speed, and location of the wearer. Developed smart fabric stored detailed data about the movement to a cloud system by sending a wireless signal. Today, motion-detecting pants are hyping the people to move forward to the application of smart textiles in fashion.

7. NASA AeroGel Jacket

Smart textile in AeroGel Jacket
Fig: AeroGel Jacket

NASA invented the Aerogel component is the best insulation material for smart clothing. This application of smart textiles makes a revolution in the aerospace textile industry. Cause its very weight, low density, and often translucent appearance. Aero gels are often called solid smoke. It has flexible nature manufacturing textile blankets, beads, thin sheets, and molded parts. Therefore the products are not heavy and bulky.

8. Smart Baby Vest

Smart Baby Vest
Fig: Smart Baby Vest

Researchers developed a special vest for babies at the ITV Denkendorf. The smart baby vest equips with microchips and sensors. It can be continuous monitoring of vital issues. Such as heart, lungs, as well as body temperature. As a result, doctors can easily detect heart circulatory illnesses. It’s already applied to prevent a baby’s cot death. Besides, it is also used for other adult patients’ life-threatening situations to save a life. Smart Baby Vest sensors are attached in such a way that doesn’t disturb the baby. This is one of the most revolutionary applications of smart textiles in the medical sector.

9. Smart Fire Fighter Jacket

Smart textiles in Fire Fighter Jacket
Fig: Smart Fire Fighting Jacket

In 2009, VIKING invent the smart fire fighter’s jacket. It integrates with thermal sensors as well as the interior and exterior layers of the coat. So that inside of the coat which is close to the body can control the high temperature near the fire-fighter.

The firefighter smart jacket sensors are connected to 2 LED displays. One is on the sleeve and another is on the back. The upper left shoulder display indicates critical situations. And the lower sleeve of The LED display indicates hazardous heat levels.

The smart firefighting jacket has a power supply from rechargeable and removable batteries. The smart firefighter jacket contains microelectronics chips that help to indicate the hazardous condition with the LED display. For Different temperatures, LED displayed different hazardous alarms to firefighters. For this successful application of smart textiles, firefighter knows about the actual situation and take the appropriate decision at the same time.

10. Smart Textiles in Fashion Industry

Application of Smart Textiles in Fashion
Fig: Visualization of Smart Textile in Fashion

In this modern era people’s daily tech-friendly lifestyle boosting the application of smart textiles in the fashion industry. People adopt much other smart clothing just because of fashion to be smart. Fast Fashion and smartness collab together in this segment of smart textile in fashion.

Philips and Levi Strauss introduced their ICD+ jacket in 2000. That combines a remote-controlled mobile phone and an MP3 player. The ICD+ jacket was the first wearable device as well as a washable smart jacket.

In 2004-5, Canesis launched electrically warmed wool socks. The smart socks are manufactured by using conductive yarns and wool, aimed at the hiking purpose. Battery-powered shocks are perfect for work in extremely cold or for patients who suffer from poor circulation. Smart shocks generate the same amount of heat which is equal to the rate of heat loss. This innovation makes a revolutionary change in the segment of smart textiles in sportswear.

There a lot of commercially available clothing’s manufactured by using the application of smart textiles technology. The range of functions of the smart textile has been diverted by implementation in the fashion industry.

Smart Textiles Applications Overview

Textile is one of the five basic human needs. From the ancient age, textile was only used for clothing. That extended to household and domestic purposes. But now the technical textile segments are grown up with so much diversity. That Smart textiles are the most exciting innovation of the textile industry.

Modern Business Suit
Fig: Touchless Modern Business Suit

Smart textiles were introduced in the world textile industry in the late ’80s. But the application of smart textiles is boosting 1000 times since then. Today the perfect implementation of the perfect smart textile application we get self-cleaning carpets, environment-responsive textiles, temperature regulating suits, and shoes. Every primary sector of textile has been influenced by the application of smart textiles. They have applications in sportswear to military, protective clothing, bio-medical textile, and so on.

The application of smart textiles reaches far beyond imagination. Once upon a time, it wishes to seem like science fiction. But now the impact of smart textiles in our daily life is gigantic. The application of smart textiles makes it possible to be the traditional textile in the high-technological oriented textile industry.


  1. Smart Textiles – New Possibilities in Textile Engineering, Paper ID: IE-31 (ICMIME2013)

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