Engineers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University are currently working on a fabric knitted with wiring that can support printed circuit boards. If the technology is successful, it can lead to clothing that would include a number of devices used for biometric monitoring and other applications. However, as an article by Wired notes, this project is not the first type of computerized fabric the world has seen. In fact, ball boys at this year’s US Open wore T-shirts that monitored their activity. In order for clothing and PCBs to work together the fabric must be durable, comfortable and washable. It must also work properly, otherwise engineers and designers will not adopt it moving forward. For now, it is important to note the progress being made and see how the technology can be used in the future.
Current and Future Uses for Printed Circuit Boards in Clothing
Printed circuit boards have long been used in consumer electronics and machinery as a way to increase efficiency. Wearable technology can already be seen in smartwatches and products like Google Glass, but more widespread and practical uses are on the horizon. Some applications where we may see fabric and PCBs together include:
- Military – The fabric being developed by the team at HKPU has been shown to withstand stretching, folding, washing, wrinkles and even being shot with bullets. This can be especially useful in bulletproof vests and other gear worn in the military as a way to measure vital signs and coordinate communication between squads.
- Sports – Workout gear can help measure the success of everyday exercising and can also be effective in assisting teams and coaches with monitoring athletes in practices and competition.
- Healthcare – This technology can be deployed in hospitals or other healthcare facilities to monitor patients and give greater insight into vital information about their health.
Start on your next project by designing and ordering PCBs from Advanced Circuits.