If you’ve ever spent time perusing the aisles of your local electronics store you’ve likely come to realize the digital age is quickly moving beyond our typical hand-held devices and PVRs. Nowadays, you can experience virtual reality, monitor your home from afar and track your pet Fido with the GPS chip in his collar.
These types of advancements are just a few examples of the emerging e-market and Vintex is looking towards a future that also includes smart textiles. The opportunities are only limited to your imagination and while, currently, there are advancements being made for clothing applications, consider medical opportunities such as chips in hospital bed pads that alert a busy nurse a patient needs their bed changed or sensors in an operating table cover to monitor vital statistics during a lengthy operation.
Last fall, at the Industrial Fabric Association’s show in New Orleans, Vintex sponsored one of IFAI’s newest initiatives; an E-Textiles Hackathon. The idea behind the competition was to allow teams to design and build a new end user product utilizing sponsor donated materials such as fabrics, zippers, conductive yarn, sensors, etc. Vintex donated several different types of fabrics to this endeavor and our medical grade Uniply® ended up in the winning product which was an interactive cube toy. This ingenious item was meant to teach children, 3-5 years old and more specifically children with Autism, to further develop their senses through touch, sight, and sound.
The toy cube had several different square panels that reacted differently when touched. The idea was that a child would touch a panel and that panel would, for example, warm up. The child would then have to find the matching panel elsewhere on the cube that was also warm. This amazing product was conceived, developed and produced all within the short few days of the IFAI Show which leads us to imagine what other life-changing products using smart textiles will be a part of our future.
As a manufacturer of engineered textile solutions, we at Vintex are always looking for ways to utilize our experience and expertise to support our customers in their creation of new and innovative products. The hackathon was such a success that we are sponsoring it again this year and are looking forward to seeing what the new teams come up with! If you are attending the IFAI Show in Dallas, TX this October, be sure to put this event on your calendar as a ‘must see’!
Twenty years ago it seemed far-fetched that everyone would carry around their own ‘phone’ which would also answer any question you could possibly have and pay for your lunch as well! As technological advances race ahead faster and faster, it’s not a stretch to think that smart textiles will be a large part of our not-so-distant future!
Submitted by: Shannon Nelson with contributions and photos by Mike Punter
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