As wearables find more traction in the marketplace — especially for health and medical applications — they will continue to “disappear” into our daily lives. One key development that will make this possible is the advent of “smart fabrics.” With conductors and even electronic components woven directly into textiles, we will have clothing that can monitor vital signs and make other biometric measurements as we go about our normal activities.
The market tracking firm IDTechEx has released a new report about “E-Textiles 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Players” that provides some insight into the future of smart fabrics. They project that the industry segment will grow from about $100 million in 2015 to more than $3 billion by 2026. Much of the growth will be in “home and lifestyle” products, but the group also predicts a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 30%. Many different technologies are vying for position in this segment, from conductive yarns to flexible printed circuitry using conductive inks.
IDTechEx reports that there is strong interest in smart textiles “right across the value chain” including material suppliers, traditional textile companies, contract manufacturers, and brand owners. The recent partnership between Google’s “Project Jacquard” and Levi’s has led to an interactive “Commuter Trucker Jacket designed to interact with smartphones while cycling. This is scheduled to ship in 2017, and is just one example of this growing end-to-end interest.