June 1, 2016


As the wearable market evolves, technology and fashion continue to intersect. Designers have made fitness trackers more attractive, used 3D printing to manufacture clothes, and now they’re introducing circuits to the mix.

Dubbed “functional textiles,” researchers at Ohio State University are experimenting with integrating circuitry into everyday clothing. While some wearable tech can be clunky, the metallic thread that laboratory director and IEEE Fellow John Volakis and his team use is only about 0.1 mm thick. The relative weightlessness of the circuitry is essential to everyday use.

Smartwear brings a new level of behavior tracking to the world of wearables. Volakis and his team are building a technology that, depending on the arrangement of circuits, can be used for different functions like boosting wireless signals or tracking behaviors and brain activity.

Thinner and less expensive than a silver-coated polymer thread that researchers previously used, the new threads, which are made of pure silver with copper at the core, offer a glimpse into the future of how technology and fashion can work together as a means for tracking health, behavior and overall movement.


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