The Technical Center

Textile Resource for Specialty Fabrics and Product Innovation
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Highlights of the Smart Fabrics Conference, Miami April 17 - 19, 2012


The Smart Fabrics 2012 Conference, organized by Smithers Apex (formerly known as IntertechPira), now in its eighth year, is the only event of its kind that gathers attendees from around the globe from the fashion, technology, electronics, research, academia, textile, and diverse applications communitiies. The Conference, held in Miami, Florida, on April 17-19, 2012, focused on the evolution of smart fabrics, where this industry stands today, and the projected next steps for wearable technology implementation.

Read highlights of several seminars presented at the Conference.



"Wearable Electronics and The Chasm"

Presentation by Michael Corbett, General Manager, Weel Technologies


Wearable Smart Fabric Technologies can be developed for four categories:

  • Illumination - Illumination is still in the early market stages.  Washability is a challenge, which can prevent or slow products in this group from going mainstream.
  • Music - Remote Controls for music
  • Heat - For such categories as boots and gloves. Battery technology is still not adequate enough in this category.
  • Biometrics - Tracking the physiology of the athlete, patient and elderly.

There are four important considerations for soft goods manufacturers to recognize if they want to enter the world of wearable technology. 

  • Pay attention to what's happening in consumer electronics.  Be aware of what's new, and what may be adaptable.
  • There is need for soft goods manufacturers to hire engineers, in particular mechanical and electrical engineers, to work side-by-side with fabric product developers
  • Think long term - The traditional seasonal roll-out of new products in the soft goods market could be a problem.  Soft goods manufacturers may need to readjust their seasonal time frames.
  • These designers and product development engineers should attend the Smart Fabrics Conference every year to help stay on top of the latest innovations in wearable technology.


"Highlights of the Smart Building and Marketing a New Technology"

Presentation by Hap Klopp, Chairman, COCONA Fabric

  • Give consumers an added value in the product for the higher price.
  • If you apply technology to a commoditized field, you have to tell the world about your technology.
  • Innovation = Invention + Commercialization.
  • Differentiation is key.  Technology can be the thing that makes your product stand out.
  • When marketing your Wearable Technology, be sure to highlight the differences between the features and benefits of the product.
  • Be creative---People respond negatively to advertising.  Nobody believes it anymore.
  • Digitization can be important, because your marketing message can be changed instantly.
  • The marketing of a new product involves listening, as well as telling-----It's a two-way street.
  • Everyone in the company needs to be on the same page.
  • You have to have a sense of urgency.  Product development cycles in apparel need to become faster if technology is involved. 
  • You must market your technology online.
  • Simple is best.
  • You must take a risk.
  • Quality is very important in marketing a new technology.  Others can't copy quality


Key Points from Presentations on Market Opportunities for Wearable Electronic Textiles made by Global Industry Leaders

  • HEATwear - Keep the technology simple and innovate the details.  Steve Leftly, CEO, Fibertronic Ltd.
  • Bringing spaces/environments alive through illumination.  Leon van de Pas, General manager, Philips Lighting.
  • Use of embroidery for heating, sensing, lighting applications, and other technical textiles.  Dr. Jan Zimmermann, technical textiles head for Forster Rohner AG.
  • Use of textile-based and textile-integrated sensors as an interconnection of components.  Dr. Uwe Mohring, managing director, Textile Research Institute Thuringia Vogtland.
  • Using computerized knitting systems, such as Shima Seiki, for the production and mass customization of wearable technology.  Knitted electronic components, such as sensors, circuitry, capacitors and antennas can be seamlessly integrated into garments.  Genevieve Dion, fashion design professor, Drexel University.
  • Future for E-textiles - Interfacing smart clothing to the Smart Phone for measuring calorie intake, alcohol consumption, and body activity.  Stacey Burr, VP wearable sports electronics, Adidas.
  • The promise wearables hold for medical technology.  Sonny Vu, CEO, Misfit Wearables.
    • Ease of use.
    • Generation of a large amount of data.
    • Improved quality of care.
    • Remote monitoring.

  • Sensing and heating applications with SEFAR PowerMatrix.  Dr. Ivo Locher, senior project manager - new businesses, Sefar AG.
  • Materials in Medicine - The need for research and development in textiles for improved protective apparel.  Dr. Vicki A. Barbur, VP R&D, Cardinal Health.
  • Electronic packaging concepts for textile integration - Development of new electronic component packages compatible with fabric integration.  Johan De Baets, sr. research engineer, IMEC - Center for Microsystems Technology. The three packaging components are:
    • Component in a yarn.
    • Stretchable interposer.
    • Crimp technology-based package.
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