(ORDO NEWS) — Engineers have been working on the creation of “smart” fabric for a long time. All new developments show the stable development of the direction.
So a team of engineers at MIT developed smart textiles that adapt to the body by recognizing its positions and movements.
The peculiarity of “smart” fabric is that it consists of special threads that react to body heat and deform. This allows you to significantly increase the accuracy of built-in pressure sensors.
How smart fabric is made
The main tool for creating such a fabric is a special digital loom that weaves ordinary fibers with functional threads.
Multilayer textiles consist of two layers of electrically conductive yarn. Between these layers is a piezoresistive material that changes resistance when compressed.
Following a given pattern, the machine weaves a functional thread into horizontal and vertical rows of matter. Where these fibers intersect, there is a pressure sensor.
However, the threads are soft and flexible, so the layers shift and rub against each other as the person moves. This creates interference and reduces the accuracy of the sensors.
To solve this problem, the developers used thermoplastic threads that begin to melt at temperatures above 70 degrees.
From this, the multi-layered fabric is fused into one layer and can maintain an accurate shape. This approach allowed engineers to get rid of obstacles, and also opened the way to the creation of three-dimensional forms, such as shoes or socks, perfectly fitting the shape of the wearer.
After that, the engineers created a system for processing data from pressure sensors. The wireless circuit scans the rows and columns of fabric woven into a grid and measures the resistance at each point.
The pressure data was presented as a heat map loaded into a machine learning model that could recognize the position or movement of the body.
What applications can “smart” fabric have?
The result is a mat that understands what the user is doing – walking, running, spinning, and so on – with 99.6% accuracy and is able to recognize seven yoga poses with 98.7% accuracy.
In addition to the mat, engineers created rag shoes with 96 pressure sensors from smart fabric. With their help, they measured the pressure on different parts of the foot when hitting a soccer ball.
The inventors believe that intelligent tissue can be useful, in particular, for physiotherapy and prosthetics, where it is important to accurately determine the degree of pressure.
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