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Are Smart Textiles the Clothes of the Future?

Carbon Fiber Cloth Fabric.We have smartphones, smart TVs and smart cars, but what about smart clothes? Could this technology find it’s way into the very fabric of our lives? One company has done just this, and here’s how it works.

Scientists in the U.S. and China have been able to design a fabric that can harvest energy from sunlight and body movements that could continuously power a mobile phone or electronic watch. Made with lightweight polymer fibers that are coated with semiconductors and metals, this fabric is low cost, measures just .01 inches thick, and requires the use of commercial weaving equipment.

This fabric is also breathable, adapts well to regular human movements, and easily integrates with other fibers and electronic devices. We won’t go into the specifics regarding how this technology works, but in short, the materials become electrically charged when they rub against a certain material, causing electrons to flow from one another, charging the desired device.

Although more tests are in the works, the results so far show no drop in performance over the course of 500 cycles of bending. Plans are also in place to use this new technology to create other items like tents or curtains. This could allow more natural and renewable energy to be harnessed.