Imagine if you could turn your jacket into a smart screen. In fact, no need to imagine it - as it may be in the shops in time for Christmas.
Powered by solar energy, this new tech fabric combines conductive and luminescent fibres with cotton. Wearable technology has been promised for years, but creating large displays integrated with functional systems has proved challenging.
However, researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai overcame this issue spectacularly with a display fabric almost 20 feet long and 10 inches wide. Remarkably, it’s integrated with a touch-sensitive fabric keyboard and power supply that harvests solar energy.
In tests, the electronic textile worked as a navigation tool showing an interactive map. It also performed communications by sending or retrieving messages via a Bluetooth connection with a smartphone. So, not only is it a supremely helpful tool for first responders, it's likely to add more than a hint of pizzazz to your everyday clothing.
Professor Huisheng Peng described the new electronic textile in the journal Nature last month as: “The cloth is flexible, breathable, and durable - making it ideal for the real world.”
Amazingly, the fabric has been shown to survive 1,000 cycles of bending, stretching and pressing. Brightness remained after 100 cycles of washing and drying.
With the addition of more applications, it’s expected to shape the next generation of electronic communication tools. Or, perhaps, the invisibility cloak has just materialised.