Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Latest in Smart Textiles - A Musical Tablecloth


A Tablecloth – Turning Dinner into Musical Recital

A tablecloth with a drum kit as well as piano keys printed on the fabric turning dinner into a musical recital has been created by a Swedish company. Specialist Li Guo together with Mats Johansson from a technology company, Smart Textiles which is based in southern Swedish city of Boras,is responsible for the smart fabric conception. Johansson who has strong interest in music commented that the team desired to combine sounds and textiles in a fun way.

 Johansson informed Reuters that the special thing is that it is all from textile technologies. They had the woven cloth but on that were prints for the piano and haveadded together with other laminated textile structures for the drums which are from knitted fabrics.

It was then sewn as connectors or taping so it is the technologies that they are familiar with in textiles, now utilised for entertaining purpose in this case. Li, his colleague holds a doctorate in textile sensors and has been researching on how to integrate them in garments. The tablecloth is said to be made partly of conductive fibres which tends to carry current, converting it into signals. They have mentioned that turning a tablecloth into an instrument is all due to the sensors.

Integrate in Garments - Combine Sounds & Textiles

The team are investigating on how to integrate them into garment or to combine sounds and textiles. Lia has explained that one can see several different pins here which are actually functioning as sensors. When one tends to press one, it is actually switched on and the technology behind it all is sense capacitive coupling. It tends to sense any of the conductors where human beings are conductors and when one puts their finger on it, it seems to get switched on.

Lia seems to see several probable uses in the near future, though the technology is not yet totally established. She further adds that sensors could be of different types and now we have touch sensors. They have also been working with stretchable sensors as well as textile electronics which can obtain signals from heartbeats, for instance from the human body. It could thus be supportive with home-based health monitoring. Johansson has mentioned that the most difficult task was to connect the soft material with hard electronics and one of the main challenges in the smart textiles.

Future - Fabrics with Embedded Sensors

He adds that the problem currently is very much where one gets this change from the actual fabric to some type of electronics, from soft flexible substance to the rigid hardware, besides the electricity and the batteries. They seemed to be difficult to make from the real textiles though there are projects which tend to look also into that, to make it also lighter and flexible and so on.

Li had stated that in the future, smart fabrics with embedded sensors would be a common place. The team have forecast that in the near future, there would be sensors in clothing which would monitor as well as send data to fill the market, thus making what one tends to wear, a tool in keeping you healthy while also making a fashion statement.

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