The computer and electronics corporate giants are planning to create wearable devices. The devices have been launched for the consumer market in small numbers. The integrated devices though portable and small; are still noticeable. The objective is to create integrated computers and devices directly into the clothing and to keep them hidden. This will make the apparel look good in contrast. The smart shirts will be able to monitor heart rate, our breathing, blood pressure or play music. Even maybe a display can be achieved on apparel with the help of LED monitors.
How will the fabric be created for computer clothing?
The digital clothing requires the cloth to be made of thread that can carry electricity. The concept of metallic thread is quite old in the garment industry. Fashion designers have used metallic threads at many fashion shows. Many researchers are using silk organza for digital clothing. It is a unique fabric that is invented and used in India. Silk organza is made of two threads. The first thread is a normal but second thread in the opposite direction to the first and is wrapped in copper foil. It is due to this copper foil that the fabric can conduct electricity. A strip of this fabric is equivalent to a ribbon cable. The researchers use insulating material on the fabric to prevent a short circuit from the contact of copper foils. All the computer or electronic components are then attached to the fiber using soldering or gripper. These devices can be easily removed for cleaning the fabric.
Many more researchers are employing plastic optical fiber woven into the fabric. These shirts can wirelessly network with other devices.
How the computer clothing will be powered.
The present computer apparel in the market comes with rechargeable batteries as the power source. Researchers are working to generate power from the flexing and movements of the cloth. The other options are solar power, wind power and temperature; that can be used to power the smart shirts.
Application of smart shirt in the war zone
The US navy is interested in the smart shirt project for their combat personnel. The navy is in the research and field test phase of their version of smart shirt. The navy smart shirt employs hardened fiber clothing inter weaved with fiber optic cable. This shirt is able to monitor breathing pattern and heart rate through in-built computer devices and transmits the data to the nearest base. The fiber optic cable is wound around the shirt and a light signal is transmitted through it. As soon as the personnel are hit by a bullet the fiber optic fractures and light signal cannot reach the receiver. This condition triggers an alarm and sends a signal to the nearest base indicating bullet hit. The US navy anticipates the smart shirt to save a lot of life.