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Sensors (Basel). 2014 Jul 7;14(7):11957-92. doi: 10.3390/s140711957.

Wearable electronics and smart textiles: a critical review.

Author information

1
Center for Space Human Robotics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Corso Trento 21, 10129 Torino, Italy. matteo.stoppa@iit.it.
2
Center for Space Human Robotics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Corso Trento 21, 10129 Torino, Italy. alessandro.chiolerio@iit.it.

Abstract

Electronic Textiles (e-textiles) are fabrics that feature electronics and interconnections woven into them, presenting physical flexibility and typical size that cannot be achieved with other existing electronic manufacturing techniques. Components and interconnections are intrinsic to the fabric and thus are less visible and not susceptible of becoming tangled or snagged by surrounding objects. E-textiles can also more easily adapt to fast changes in the computational and sensing requirements of any specific application, this one representing a useful feature for power management and context awareness. The vision behind wearable computing foresees future electronic systems to be an integral part of our everyday outfits. Such electronic devices have to meet special requirements concerning wearability. Wearable systems will be characterized by their ability to automatically recognize the activity and the behavioral status of their own user as well as of the situation around her/him, and to use this information to adjust the systems' configuration and functionality. This review focuses on recent advances in the field of Smart Textiles and pays particular attention to the materials and their manufacturing process. Each technique shows advantages and disadvantages and our aim is to highlight a possible trade-off between flexibility, ergonomics, low power consumption, integration and eventually autonomy.

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