Tech pioneers like Loomia, are demonstrating that smart textiles are for more than just wearing.
The wearables company, which has several awards under its belt, including Wareable Magazine’s 2016 Startup of the Year, is bridging the gap between intelligent materials and humans with its latest innovation, a textile trackpad.
Maddy Maxey, Loomia’s founder, developed the fabric as part of her artist-in-residence program at Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San Francisco. The trackpad acts as a computer interface and enables users to control their laptops by brushing a piece of fabric.
Unlike standard keyboards that restrict movement and curb natural drawing abilities, the trackpad transforms any space into a creative area. It displays potential product applications for Loomia fabrics, while reading motions and outputting them for larger scale renderings. What’s more, the trackpad is also portable enough for travel since it only weighs two pounds and could fit easily into most backpacks.
Loomia’s advanced technology plays a crucial part in the design of smart fabrics, including the trackpad. The company—whose internet protocol spans several areas, like apparel-friendly connectors and stretchy direct-to-textile conductive links—produces flexible smart fabric panels that can be integrated into consumer products.
Loomia’s recent development is timely with the rising popularity of wearables. The International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker predicted that smart apparel will drive wearables market growth by 2021. New vendors, including retail outlets, will increase international wearable device shipments to 237.5 million over the next four years, as consumers continue to demand more wearable goods.