A new type of smart fabric developed at the University of Washington could pave the way for jackets that store invisible passcodes and open the door to your apartment or office.
The UW computer scientists have created fabrics and fashion accessories that can store data — from security codes to identification tags — without needing any on-board electronics or sensors.
As described in a paper presented Oct. 25 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST 2017), they leveraged previously unexplored magnetic properties of off-the-shelf conductive thread. The data can be read using an instrument embedded in existing smartphones to enable navigation apps.
“This is a completely electronic-free design, which means you can iron the smart fabric or put it in the washer and dryer,” said senior author Shyam Gollakota, associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “You can think of the fabric as a hard disk — you’re actually doing this data storage on the clothes you’re wearing.”
Most people today combine conductive thread — embroidery thread that can carry an electrical current — with other types of electronics to create outfits, stuffed animals or accessories that light up or communicate.
But the UW researchers realized that this off-the-shelf conductive thread also has magnetic properties that can be manipulated to store either digital data or visual information like letters or numbers. This data can be read by a magnetometer, an inexpensive instrument that measures the direction and strength of magnetic fields and is embedded in most smartphones.
“We are using something that already exists on a smartphone and uses almost no power, so the cost of reading this type of data is negligible,” said Gollakota.
In one example, they stored the passcode to an electronic door lock on a patch of conductive fabric sewn to a shirt cuff. They unlocked the door by waving the cuff in front of an array of magnetometers.
The UW researchers also created fashion accessories like a tie, belt, necklace and wristband and decoded the data by swiping a smartphone across them.
They used conventional sewing machines to embroider fabric with off-the-shelf conductive thread, whose magnetic poles start out in a random order. By rubbing a magnet against the fabric, the researchers were able to physically align the poles in either a positive or negative direction, which can correspond to the 1s and 0s in digital data.
Like hotel card keys, the strength of the magnetic signal weakens by about 30 percent over the course of a week, though the fabric can be re-magnetized and re-programmed multiple times. In other stress tests, the fabric patch retained its data even after machine washing, drying and ironing at temperatures of up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is in contrast to many smart garments today that still require on-board electronics or sensors to work. That can be problematic if you get caught in the rain or forget to detach those electronics before throwing them in the washing machine — a potential barrier to widespread adoption of other wearable technology designs.
The team also demonstrated that the magnetized fabric could be used to interact with a smartphone while it is in one’s pocket. Researchers developed a glove with conductive fabric sewn into its fingertips, which was used to gesture at the smartphone. Each gesture yields a different magnetic signal that can invoke specific actions like pausing or playing music.
“With this system, we can easily interact with smart devices without having to constantly take it out of our pockets,” said lead author Justin Chan, an Allen School doctoral student.
In the team’s tests, the phone was able to recognize six gestures — left flick, right flick, upward swipe, downward swipe, click and back click — with 90 percent accuracy.
Future work is focused on developing custom textiles that generate stronger magnetic fields and are capable of storing a higher density of data.
The Latest on: Smart fabric
- Smart Contract Technical Underpinnings (Blockchain Report Excerpt) on October 7, 2018 at 3:31 am
and sells its own IBM Blockchain based on Hyperledger Fabric. This simplifies the deployment and allows value chains to be created and joined more easily. A smart contract is a computer program ... […]
- Smart Fabrics and Textiles Market 2018 Global Trend, Segmentation And Opportunities Forecast To 2023 on October 5, 2018 at 9:40 am
This report researches the worldwide Smart Fabrics and Textiles market size (value, capacity, production and consumption) in key regions like North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (China, Japan) and oth... […]
- HOM Furniture Company Partners with ReST for New Smart Sales Model on October 3, 2018 at 10:30 am
Our main product is the ReST Bed™: the only truly smart bed. The ReST Bed™ incorporates our patented smart fabric, which senses changes in pressure and interacts with the mattress in order to automati... […]
- JBL LINK VIEW review: Google Assistant smart display with a decent screen and solid JBL sound on October 1, 2018 at 2:36 pm
Featuring an 8-inch screen, the JBL LINK VIEW smart display is oval shaped with speakers on either side. The speakers have a fabric speaker grille for a nice look, and the screen has half-inch ... […]
- Google Home Hub: Everything we know about Google’s new Smart Display so far on October 1, 2018 at 9:36 am
It controls smart home appliances with an interface that ... a design that very much reflects the current Home aesthetic of fabric and more muted colors. The display is front and center, receiving ... […]
- Keys to Intellectual Property Protection and Licensing for Smart Fabrics on September 28, 2018 at 8:04 am
Several speakers at the Smart Fabrics Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Industrial Fabrics Association International, on April 24, 2018, in Washington, DC, spoke about how the ... […]
- Pyratex fabrics use responsibly-sourced natural fibres on September 27, 2018 at 11:16 pm
Spain-based Pyrates Smart Fabrics, set up with the goal to find a fashion solution to health and environmental challenges, provide the same benefits as synthetic smart fabrics, but using responsibly-s... […]
- Apple Engineers invented a new way to make Spacer Fabrics Aesthetically Appealing for HomePod on September 27, 2018 at 9:45 am
Spacer fabrics are sometimes used for their softness ... worked on Apple Watch bands, iPhone cases, the Smart Keyboard and more. The other engineers include Javier Mendez, Amit Barve, Peter Coxeter, R... […]
- The HP Tango smart printer clearly wants you to confuse it for a book on September 25, 2018 at 4:35 pm
and $50 extra for the Tango X model with fabric, the mini-stealth printer might play as more of a centerpiece than something to hide away. Announced as the world’s first smart home printer ... […]
- Amazon Echo Plus is the smart home hub of the future on September 25, 2018 at 10:18 am
Like the original, it's powered by Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, and it has a Zigbee hub built-in so it can talk to smart home sensors. Beyond the new fabric finish, the new Echo Plus sports an adde... […]
via Google News and Bing News