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Innovations in 2023 heralded new era in integration of technology and textiles

The year was 2023, marked by groundbreaking advancements from global research institutions. These developments herald a new era in integrating technology and textiles, offering transformative potential across various sectors.

Here are some of the pioneering works by different institutions and researchers:

US’ MIT researchers develop shape-changing FibeRobo for intelligent clothing: An interdisciplinary team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a fiber that could revolutionize the textile industry. Known as FibeRobo, this programmable, actuating fiber can dynamically change shape in response to temperature changes, making it ideal for smart clothing. Unlike other shape-changing fibers, FibeRobo does not require embedded sensors or other complex components, making it fully compatible with conventional textile manufacturing techniques such as weaving looms and embroidery.

Singapore’s researchers mimic spiders to transform bright textile fiber: Drawing on the intricate spinning process of spiders, researchers at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) College of Design and Engineering, alongside international collaborators, created a revolutionary method for producing soft, reusable fibers, ideal for intelligent textiles. These textiles, known for their application in therapeutic, sensing, and communicative devices, require durability, elasticity, and electrical conductivity, all of which this new method fulfills.

Bright fabric by Canadian researchers responds to heat and electricity: Researchers at Canada’s University of Waterloo developed a new innovative material that gets activated by heat and electricity, enabling it to react to two stimuli. The unique design paves the way for various potential applications, including clothing that warms up. At the same time, one walks from the car to the office in winter, and vehicle bumpers return to their original shape after a collision.

UK’s researchers develop sustainable smart textiles with LEDs and sensors: Next-generation smart textiles that incorporate LEDs, sensors, energy harvesting, and storage were developed by an international team of researchers led by the UK’s University of Cambridge. The textiles can be produced inexpensively, in any shape or size, using the same machines used to make everyday clothing. The study’s findings, published in the journal Science Advances, have showcased the potential of smart textiles as a viable substitute for bulky electronics in various industries such as automotive and fashion.

Finland’s researchers develop bright fabric that reacts to temperature changes: Researchers at Finland’s Aalto University and the University of Cambridge collaborated to create new textiles that can alter their shape based on the temperature. Such responsive, innovative fabrics offer adjustable aesthetics, assist in tracking people’s health, enhance thermal insulation, and provide new tools for controlling room acoustics and design. The team used conventional textile crafting techniques to develop the intelligent fabric, testing two versions with soft or rigid LCE yarns. When kept under an infrared lamp, all of the LCE fabrics contracted as they warmed up. The changes were reversible as they returned to their original shape once the temperature cooled.

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