Smart textiles could influence the future of fashion

Imagine sending and receiving voice messages via your favorite sweater. Or watching a show on a display that is simultaneously the fabric of your trousers. This outlandish idea may actually be part of the future of fashion.

Scientists have developed smart textiles that, like other advanced fabrics, are flexible, breathable, durable, and can be washed without falling apart or getting worn out. The difference is that the textile is also electronic and functions as a display.

Touch-sensitive keyboards and power supplies can also be integrated into the fabric, which essentially makes the textile a computer. The experimental piece of textile that researchers have made is six meters long and 25 meters wide, and the display manages to be consistent throughout. It is made of individual illuminated pieces that are comprised of conductive and glowing fibers that meet at contact points within the fabric.

The textile went through a thousand cycles of bending, stretching, and pressing, as well as a hundred cycles of washing and drying, and remarkably, most of the units remained stable.

The primary motivation for this kind of technology is healthcare—creating a way for people who have trouble communicating to relay messages non-verbally and non-physically, but through brain signals that can be communicated on the front of their clothes. That said, many clothing companies and brands are naturally curious about what this technological development could mean for fashion and are already trying to integrate these textiles into their clothing.

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