VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a leading research and technology company in Europe, has developed a smart fabric that can be adjusted using a mobile app to control the wearer’s body temperature.
The non-profit organization created a high-volume production method that uses hot embossing to put tiny channel structures onto hard or soft plastic film for use in wearable technology and cosmetic applications.
In essence, the technology works like little veins that stem across a person’s clothes; inside is liquid that can be pumped through the channels at the wearer’s demand, at either a hot or cold temperature, meaning it can be utilized in light, warm-weather apparel or thick and sturdy cold-weather clothes.
Ralph Liedert, VTT’s key account manager for wearable technology and printed diagnostics, said the idea for the smart fabric was inspired by the human cardiovascular system, which can be compared to the “miniscule microfluidic channels” in the fabric.
“This gave us the idea for other applications of our new method in addition to diagnostics, such as heating or cooling channels for clothing or the storage and transport of substances that are only needed in small volumes (perfumes and fragrances) or that are very expensive (medicine),” he said.
The next step, VTT said, is to create a mobile app that wearers can use to control the temperature. The organization is also in the stages of developing a smart fabric that can be used as “personalized air conditioning” in outdoor clothing.
However, production costs are relatively high so VTT is actively seeking partners within the sports, outdoor recreation, wearable technology and cosmetics industries.