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  October 19th, 2022 | Written by

Technological Advancements in Wearables to Boost Smart and Interactive Textiles Adoption

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Textiles have been a vital part of human life for a long time; however, they have undergone various transformations over the past couple of decades. Initially, the functions of textiles were limited to their aesthetic aspects in clothing and protecting the body from the external environment. Backed by continuous technological advancements and R&D efforts, a new avenue of the textile industry has emerged recently, i.e., smart and interactive textiles. 

Wearable technologies are making a significant impact on people’s way of living thanks to the advancements in mobile communication, the Internet of things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence. Smart Fabrics and Interactive Textiles (SFITs) can be referred to as the amalgamation of artificial muscles with textiles that offer active actuation for desired force and motion, along with high conformity and adaptive ease. These fabrics seem to have enormous potential and are used across a plethora of applications ranging from military protection, cloth consumption, medical healthcare, and entertainment and sports. 

The proliferation of wearable technologies has further boosted the smart and interactive textiles market size in recent years. People in developed economies have become more educated and health-conscious and have started taking both, mental as well as physical well-being seriously. This, in consequence, has increased their expenditure on clinically viable wearable devices. Several countries have been working on the prospects of integrating these technologies across communities, hospitals, individuals, and families. This would help mitigate the concerns of limited medical resources and demand for adequate health monitoring, propelling product sales.

According to Global Market Insights Inc., the Smart and Interactive Textiles Market is anticipated to cross USD 16 billion by 2030.

There has been an increased cognizance of safety and comfort in personal vehicles. Premium and luxury automobile owners in every part of the world have been investing heavily in car aesthetics to add more functionality and visual appeal to their vehicles. Also, they are more inclined toward elevating the overall driving experience, which, in turn, will augment the demand for smart and interactive textiles.

Geriatric population growth to amplify smart and interactive textiles market size

There has been a noticeable increase in the life expectancy of people and the world is witnessing a consistent expansion of the geriatric population base. Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the share of people aged 60 years or above will record a two-fold growth between 2015 and 2050, reaching 22% in 2050 from 12% in 2015. The high susceptibility and accelerated health concerns of elderly individuals are slated to encourage equipment manufacturers and tech giants to introduce solutions and health devices with cutting-edge functionalities, thereby positively impacting the smart and interactive textiles industry outlook.

To that end, in July 2022, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed smart textiles capable of detecting and recognizing body movements. The apparels fit tightly and have a network of pressure sensors, which in association with machine learning techniques, can recognize and learn to detect the wearer’s movements. The textile is made using thermoforming fibers and has the potential to deliver positive outcomes in physical rehabilitation by integration in smart shoes or socks. The smart wearable can help track pressure on the feet and reduce the possibility of ulcers in diabetic patients. R&D efforts have played a critical role in increasing the penetration of interactive textiles through the healthcare sector and will continue to augment the wearables market size over the coming years.

Textiles ecosystem to see a boom in revenues from smart & wearable instruments

The integration of advanced technologies across the garment and textile industry has paved way for designing and developing linen-based unconventional and out-of-the-box products. Besides, scientists have been actively studying the possibilities of utilizing e-textile technology in everything ranging from music to sports to healthcare to fashion to automobiles. In addition, favorable regulatory frameworks across several economies, coupled with increasing R&D investments, will foster the adoption of smart and interactive textiles in the ensuing years. 

Recently, MIT Media Labs has designed pioneering musical knitwear known as KnittedKeyboard II. The keyboard is a textile-based musical device knitted using smart fibers and sensors featuring a common piano key layout. This fabric-based piano is soft, expressive, lightweight, and stretchable at the same time. These attributes make it aesthetically unique and transportable and hence, are stimulating its adoption. There are other companies as well which have invested in wearable musicals and are set to disrupt the interactive textiles market with sustainable and cost-effective solutions. 

Wearable health monitoring solutions to gain traction in the coming years

The onset of several health calamities, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, created turbulence across the healthcare sector. The burden of chronic diseases and other health complications requiring active health monitoring reached its apex in 2020. As a result, huge research and commercialization endeavors started across the globe to create wearable biosensors which can gather bio signals in the human body for assessing fitness and diagnosing diseases.  

The accelerated business growth is attributed to the development of personalized, fashionable, low-cost wearable devices with integrated communication features. In addition, with rapid industrialization and the increasing emphasis on green safety and performance optimization, the smart and integrated textiles market is set to witness unprecedented growth in the forthcoming years.