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How do smart and conductive fabrics revolutionize the wearable and medical industries?

پارچه‌های هوشمند و رسانا چگونه صنعت پوشیدنی و پزشکی را متحول می‌کنند؟

For nearly a century and a half, from the mid-1800s to the late 1900s, the apparel industry was New York’s largest and largest manufacturing industry. The city produced more clothing than anywhere else in the world, and New Yorkers worked more in the clothing industry than in other jobs.

We are moving forward to reach the present. Ten miles from where the garment area was a century ago, in an old building in Brooklyn, there is now a startup called Nextiles, which wants to innovate to mark a new era in the textile and sewing industry. And while the New York area once promised to produce clothes that made their owners smart, Nextiles used advanced and admirable technologies that make the clothes themselves smart.

“The materials we use are basically made of fabric,” George Sun, CEO and co-founder of Nextstyles, told Digital Trends. We still use polyester, we use nylon, we can still use linen and leather, but we give them conductivity. When objects become conductive, they are clearly capable of transmitting electricity, and this is where you enter the world of electrical and hardware engineering, right? As soon as you can move electrons, you can use the basic rules of the field: resistance, capacitance, inductors, transistors, and so on. “What I want to say is that we are making semiconductor materials in the form of fabric.”

Nextyls was founded in 2018. Made with the patronage of the National Science Foundation, the company’s smart fabric is patented – and, yes, machine washable – using advanced sensor technology designed to instantly transmit biometric and biomechanical data through Receive bluetooth. The company’s fabrics are coated with a layer of conductive materials such as stainless steel, so they are able to collect and transmit data.

Putting all these fibers together and turning them into what he calls a “highway system of conductive strands” will provide a wealth of new opportunities for collecting data from the human body. At the moment, these fabrics are made for athletes, but one day they can make the clothes of all of us look smart. Ever wanted something a bit different for your swimwear? Luck is with you dear!

Human-centered technology

When it comes to processing in the form of wearable devices, we come across a wide range of different products. Smart wearable is commonly referred to as computer technology, which is portable anywhere and is located directly opposite desktop computers or older computers that took up a full room. A smart phone can be considered a wearable with a lot of grace (especially when it is attached to the runners’ arm). Airbags are definitely wearable. A smartwatch is also wearable. Therefore, smart implants and smart glasses can also be considered wearable.

Each of these devices has a different function than the other and requires completely different user interfaces and experiences to make the most of their potential. What sets these devices apart – apart from their small size – is how they fit into human-centric technology, according to user expert Dan Norman. Human-centered technology means technology that disappears in the background, collects data, and provides the necessary support without the need for a tangible focus on the technology itself.

Wearables should be a form of technology that attaches to the body and does not constantly warn us of their technological nature. As Manfred Kleins and Nathan Klein, the two researchers who coined the term “cyborg” in the 1960s, put it, their concept of the human-human hybrid means “a complex organism that is involuntarily improved and subconsciously improved.” “It acts as an integrated homeostatic system.”

The idea of ​​using smart materials became popular in the 1960s, and included many examples of scientists trying to make such materials: from state-of-the-art memory materials to polymer gels and photochromic lenses that made glasses dark in the sun. All of these included substances that could sense environmental stimuli and adapt to different directions. Of course, the behavior of these materials is not active, so we can not consider them truly intelligent.

A different form of wearables

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However, it was not until the end of the twentieth century that researchers began to study in the truest possible way how electronic components were embedded in fabrics and other textiles to create the potential for a new generation. The wearable market is much more mature today. According to a recent study, the supply of smart wearable products worldwide reached 266.3 million units by 2020, which is approximately equal to the population of Indonesia.

But Sun shows no interest in comparing the smart clothes or wearables we have today. “People look at today’s smartwatches and thus have a certain kind of prejudice.” He continues: “They always ask, ‘Oh, can your product measure my calories?’ Can it detect the contents of my sweat? And our answer is that our product can do a lot more than that. “We are trying to measure biomechanical motion: we can measure angles, torque and sprains.”

The ability to monitor all the different dimensions of the human body can create tremendous potential. Consider, for example, a sports wearer that detects whether you are throwing a basketball at the right angle, lifting weights correctly, or a club T-shirt that says which part of the body is sprained and muscle is growing. Is. By installing various sensors on the back of the garment, Sun says, it is possible to measure the curvature of the spine. Breathing can be monitored and measured by placing sensors on the chest. And when it comes to preventing bodily injury and improving exercise techniques, such wearables can be really playful.

“We can measure things like stretching,” explains Sun. We can measure things like bending. “We can measure things like pressure.”

Soft Launch

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After working at MIT Research Laboratory and partnering with Puma to make high-tech shoes, Sun became interested in the world of smart materials. He says that at first he thought the technology would benefit physiotherapists like his sister more than anyone else, but he soon became convinced that it could be a great fit for the sportswear market.

The first Nextyls products included arm and knee sleeves that could be used to ensure mechanical changes in various parts of the body. The Sun says it plans to “launch” the company’s products this summer. “We will be offering some of our best products to professional athletes on a trial basis,” he says.

He says that currently only 10 of the company’s products have been sent to alpha regions around the world for alpha phase testing. But he hopes that number will rise to hundreds by the end of this year. Next, Nextsels will research “new emotional techniques,” such as electrocardiograms, electroencephalograms, and electromyographs, which are used in the areas of heart rate monitoring, brain activity monitoring, and muscle health monitoring, respectively.

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In the long run, Nextyls is likely to turn to biometric data monitoring, which is currently being collected with smartwatches and other similar devices, but with the difference that the whole body will be covered. In addition to the world of health, smart wearable fabrics can also be used to interact with the world around us.

Nextyls does not consider itself obligated to remain in the world of wearables. The company produces smart fabrics, and although fabrics are synonymous with clothing, they are not limited to clothing. As the Sun says, “Tailoring can be found everywhere. On the carpets, in your car, on the planes. “Wherever there is a need for a smooth surface, fabrics enter the field.”

He asks us to imagine sheets that collect sleep data. Such products can be used to gather both user and manufacturer data: just as kebab publishers in the age of Kindle bookstores are able to gather information about people’s reading habits. These innovations can be even less passive, for example, mattresses that can be softer or firmer depending on your sleep patterns.

Crowded market

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Nextyls is not the only company working on smart wearables. Researchers at various universities have also developed promising prototypes, such as a fabric that can turn clothing into a wearable display. On the other hand, some researchers have produced heating or cooling fabrics that keep a person’s body temperature at the desired temperature, no matter where it goes. Then it comes to startups like Hexoskin, which have built smart suits equipped with a host of sensors to continuously collect data on sleep, body activity, as well as lung and heart activity.

Technology giants like Apple have filed numerous patents in this area, although they have not introduced or offered any products. The biggest activist in this field is the appearance of Google, which unveiled the Jacquard project at the Google I / O conference in 2015. This project is led by Google’s technology and advanced projects team and is dedicated to the development of touch sensitive fabrics.

The beginning of a long journey

The main question is whether in such a market that has attracted so much attention, Nextsels will be able to survive and thrive. Although the road ahead for the company may seem exciting, there is also a feeling that the Nexts are just beginning a very long journey.

“We have access to the capital and energy we need to enter next year and we are constantly expanding our team,” says Sun. We already have customers who pay us and make money for us. It is this income that keeps our R&D unit alive. In addition, we are attracting capital. We know that our technology has potential in the world of healthcare, so we are seeking funding from the National Science Foundation and similar agencies. “There are many ways to make money or make money, and we will use them all.”

If Nextyels can make their ambitions a reality, we may face a very promising business in the near future. And who knows? In this way, it may be possible to develop science fiction costumes that we have seen in Star Wars, Star Trek, and RoboCop.

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