The IDTechEx conference was held in Santa Clara, CA November 18 and 19, 2015, covering a wide range of topics including wearable devices and related technology such as sensors, printed electronics, and energy harvesting. This is one of the many items of interest from that conference.
Smart clothing is one of the most intriguing areas of wearable Health Tech, but smart fabrics pose a number of their own special challenges. For example, how do you connect different electronic sensors and controllers? Ad the IDTechEx conference, I visited the Ohmatex booth and saw a new connector that they have developed. This clever design has three parts. The female connector comes with two parts; on has the electrode connectors, and the other is a top that snaps on top to capture the fabric between the parts. With the fabric cut away in the hole, the male part can then clip in place. The current design provides for up to six conductors, and the device is simple to connect or detach using one hand. It is self-orienting, so you cannot accidentally connect it upside down or backwards. And it is far more secure than other typical electronic connectors such as USB or the familiar 3.5 mm stereo plug used in cellphones and MP3 players.
The male part is designed to work with Ohmatex’s flexible fabric conductors, and both connectors are designed to be washable and have no moving parts. This could be a good solution to a real problem for smart clothing, though it remains to be seen whether or not it will find broad acceptance in the industry.