Smart Textiles for independence and road safety

At the 3. Anwenderforum organised by the Institute für Textil- und Verfahrenstechnik Denkendorf (ITV), ideas and visions were to be set off in order to fly. In Stuttgart and Esslingen, industry- and technology-experts discussed projects, trends and market chances. Smart textiles, this was clearly demonstrated in many lectures, are suitable for many application fields in the health care, mobility and safety industry.


The idea of Christian Möllering, enervision, and Hyun-Young Lee, from the Institut Textiltechnik Aachen, is to live securely and independently even at an older age, to be connected with other people and to better integrate older citizens into the permanently changing work live. They work on textile connections for the daily interaction with technology. The aim is to design it in an especially user-friendly way. This will be realised on the basis of individual requirements and preferences of potential users. How old is a person, what about the gender or the cultural background, and how well is the person used to technical devices?

A textile interface should address many senses – haptics, optics and acoustics simultaneously at its best. The input options should be done intuitively or be learned easily, they should work irrespectively of the user’s age, the design should be familiar and also attractive. As result, a consortium with partners of the textile and data industry, product design and market research developed a textile touch pad. That means special requirements to textile connections. It has to work reliably, commands should not be misunderstood. The user has to accept the pad, the textile haptics should be maintained despite of technological skills. Prototypes in the form of a cloth or a cushion do already exist. It has to be determined, however, to what kind of gestures it reacts and how the operating elements have to arranged; this is still under research.
Other technologies in the form of small band sensors on the wrist are continuously monitoring the blood pressure, or electrodes work as pain relievers. There are also garments which signalise when a baby stops to breathe, fire workers are physically done while extinguishing fire, or when truck drivers are getting too tired.

Siegried Rothe from Daimler, for instance, was speaking on emergency assistance systems. Algorithms have been developed that detect and monitor physical parameters, such as distance, speed, acceleration and steering angles in order to support the driver to guide its care securely, to warn or even to interact. Furthermore, there are assistance systems which are able to find conclusions on the driver’s conditions and which are moreover able to recognize when the driver is tired and then ask him for a break. A new approach, according to Rothe, is the measurement and the interpretation of physical parameters such as pulse, heart beat variability, skin conductance level or blood oxygen, that were gathered thanks to textile sensors and that can be used as additional input for assistance systems. Important here is that they work exactly and reliably and that drivers accept such kinds of textiles.


Anwenderforum Smart Textiles at a glance:

The event was founded in 2013 by the Forschungskuratorium Textil e.V., Berlin, by Institut für Textil- und Verfahrenstechnik Denkendorf and by Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen Vogtland e.V. in order to promote the exchange from knowledge in the industry and in science.

Kirsten Rein

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