Novel smart textiles
Stylios, George K.
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A measure of the importance of smart textiles is its market size, which will exceed USD $5.55 billion by 2025, with the healthcare and well-being sectors being significant driving forces, and garment sensor-based wearable monitoring expected to exceed 50% CAGR in the next five years. Research on highly specific applications is increasing, exploring the opportunities offered by manipulating textile materials to the nanoscale for creating new smart adaptive/active functionality, and by the development of e-textiles, which offer intelligent flexible integrated systems capable of sensing, actuation, and wirelessly communicating in the form of intelligent high-tech fabrics and wearable garments. The development of these systems presents a complex set of interdisciplinary challenges in material design, hierarchical integration, control strategies, and manufacturing. This focused journal collection of highly original papers is underpinning these issues by reporting the latest research progress. These research papers increase our knowledge, enable us to see our own work in context, empower us to improve our understanding, increase the rigour of our research, and encourages us to work collectively. I hope that, to some extent, the publication of the concentrated effort of these researchers in this Special Issue can aid to provide a clearer roadmap for further research advancement. Adding my own observations about the challenges that smart textiles must overcome, washability, user safety, and reliability are three important factors that need to be addressed in our research. Traditional textiles working with electrical components need a change of culture, which is time consuming and difficult. The supply chain is not yet ready to embrace fast changes that are much needed, and designers and engineers must learn to work together. We have a tired textile industry that is producing consumer products at pence per minute and being for damaging the environment. I think that untapped opportunities exist for this industry and that smart textiles must converge with traditional textiles. My own hope for the future of this field is not to aim for incremental changes but to force a transformational change.
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