Smart clothes are consistently going mainstream since they started becoming popular back in 2015. Different companies continue to get more creative with the concept of smart wear.
The connected garments give us a different way to continuously track our heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen levels without having to wear gadgets on our wrists or other parts of our body. You won’t have to grab your phone or tap on a smartwatch screen. In this article, we’ll cover every essential detail you need to know about smart clothes.
What are smart clothes?
Smart fabrics, also known as smart wear, smart clothes, e-textiles, smart textiles, or monitor clothing, are garments that have been upgraded with technology to increase their functionality beyond simply wearing them. Some are made of advanced textiles that have interwoven circuitry. Others make use of sensors and extra hardware that enhance them to give them their smart functionality.
The garments, including smart shirts and bodysuits, provide you with biometric data like heart rate, pulse rhythm, physical movement, and muscle strength. Most smart fabrics are enabled to work with apps. They can connect to programs and apps through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on a secondary device in real-time. The electronic textiles’ prototypes date way back to the 1980s, but it took a lot of time, almost three decades, for the products to gain popularity.
Way back before, the smart garment industry became a craze. The idea was more of a speculation. However, industry experts predicted connected wearables, which include smart clothes, would be a boom. Currently, it’s no longer a fantasy. The world is full of devices and clothes integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT). Developers are attempting to bypass the tyranny of only accessing the internet through particular devices, like computers and mobile phones.
What are the different types of smart clothes?
The different types of smart clothes don’t have any particular classification. Therefore, they’re usually grouped into three categories, depending on their functionality.
Passive smart textiles
This is the first generation of textiles that are represented by affixing devices directly to the apparel. These smart fabrics are only able to recognize the data concerning the stimuli derived from the environment. The only thing that’s put in the textiles is sensors. Some examples of smart textiles in this category include optical sensors, UV protective clothing, and plasma-treated fabrics, among others.
Active smart textiles
The second generation is made up of smart textiles that have both actuators and sensors. They have the following features: the ability to maintain the chameleon effect, they can absorb vapors, they can heat the suit’s fabric and store it as well, they’re water-resistant, regulate temperature, and they can memorize shape.
Ultra smart textiles
This third generation of smart clothes is the most advanced. They’re sensors themselves. These types of smart textiles are only able to sense disparate data. They can also fit other external systems, and they can make forecasts. Some examples of ultra-smart textiles include wearable computers, spacesuits, sports jackets, I-Wear, and musical jackets.
The following are the different types of smart fabrics by items:
- Bicycle helmets
- Smart socks
How can smart clothes improve your health and fitness?
Due to the potential benefits that smart garments have, they have proven to be very beneficial to our health and fitness.
- Just like other IoT devices, smart fabrics can monitor your vital levels as well as your physical activities. You’re able to reduce the number of times you visit the clinic when you wear smart clothes. You’ll be able to monitor your health without the help of a paramedic proactively.
- Pregnant women can also benefit from monitoring sensors. The smart fabrics are capable of helping in the creation of life belts usually worn around the abdomen by pregnant women. The health of the mother and fetus is monitored by IoT sensors used in the life belts.
- The military and defense also highly benefit from smart clothes. In war zones, the environment is highly contaminated by different toxic gases emitted by bomb blasts and gunfire. The IoT devices that are in smart garments can efficiently detect the presence of toxic gases as well as the levels too. They can also detect the number of blood soldiers lose from minor injuries. The information is then sent to medical professionals, so they take appropriate steps and provide help.
- They eliminate the need to wear IoT devices on your body as they’re embedded in your clothes. An example is a bionic bra that Australian engineers have developed. It changes according to how your breasts move. It can either make the straps tighter or loosen them, depending on your movements. This helps in preventing sags and pain.
What are the pros and cons of smart clothes?
Smart fabrics are growing rapidly, and there seems to be no sign of stopping their tremendous impact. Nevertheless, it’s still important to consider their pros and cons.
Smart garments provide us with a lot of benefits, including:
- They help monitor our fitness levels.
- They’re comfortable to wear.
- You can wash them with the rest of your clothes.
- Can help track your location using built-in GPS.
- You can wear them and go everywhere with them, and keep track of your health anytime.
- You get to obtain information without a hassle. You always enjoy a hands-free user experience.
- You’re able to view the information in real-time and anytime you want since it can be connected to smart devices and transmit information.
- Achieving your fitness goals is much easier since you can track your progress. All your information is personalized. They’re able to retrieve psychological parameters. It gives you a way to get personalized information on your health and fitness.
Despite being useful, smart garments also have a few disadvantages:
- Smart clothes can be a little expensive; hence not everyone.
- The information provided might not be completely accurate. Sensors need to be improved and positioned well.
6 smart clothes that will change the way you dress
The following are some of the best smart clothes you can invest in:
Nadi X by Wearable X
The Nadi X yoga pants make yoga much easier for you, especially if you’re a beginner. They have built-in haptic vibrations that pulse at your ankles, hips, and knees gently. That encourages you to move and/or hold different positions. The pants sync via Bluetooth to your smartphone, and you get all the feedback through the companion app.
Sensoria Running System
The system comes with smart socks and a shirt. The socks are integrated with textile pressure sensors and paired with a Bluetooth smart anklet. The anklets are used to keep track of: foot landing technique, distance covered, steps, speed, and cadence. The shirt is made from polyamide and elastane. It’s very breathable and stretchy. It can track your heart rate.
Smart Clothing by Athos
Athos smart clothing is capable of measuring how hard your muscles work. All this is done through the use of EMG (Electromyography). The EMG is combined with efficient AI plus a mobile app that gives you insights to keep you updated on your body’s performance.
Smart Shirt by Hexoskin
The Hexoskin smart shirt is one of the most advanced smart garments. It includes textile sensors and measures: heart rate, breathing, sleep tracking, breathing volume, activity, and heart rate variability.
Smart Swimsuit by Neviano
This collection of swimsuits has a lot of great and innovative features. They come with UV sensors and both Android/iOS apps. The swimsuit is equipped with a medallion-style waterproof sensor that’s removable. It stops you from staying too long in the sun. Your temperature is continuously monitored after you enter your skin type in the app. You’ll be notified when you need to apply sunscreen or sit in the shade.
Athlete Recovery by Under Armour
The Athlete Recovery by Under Armour is well-built to help athletes recover from pain and soreness. They work through a bioceramic technology that’s incorporated in the lining of the clothes. Infrared wavelengths emitted by the body are absorbed, and it’s reflected far back to help with recovery and enhance sleeping better.
To wrap up
The healthcare industry is flooded with industries that are developing innovative wearables. Smart clothes are part of the innovations that are going beyond fitness trackers. They help measure many factors, including vital signs and blood pressure. Like glasses used to measure vision performance and smart hearing aids, different smart devices are now available to the public and medical professionals.
Other wearables, like AR/VR headsets, pet trackers, and even smart jewelry, are growing rapidly and gaining momentum with every passing day. People are becoming more and more dependent on smart devices and clothing due to the convenience they experience. There currently is a great deal of potential for the wearables market.
The future appears bright for smart clothes. It will definitely be interesting to discover where things will be in a few years to come as they continue to impact individuals and the world at large.