Southampton team to develop smart fabrics and textiles

Researchers at Southampton University have been granted £910,196 in EPSRC funds to study smart fabrics and interactive textiles for use in health monitoring, consumer products and the automotive sector.

A team led by Dr Steve Beeby will develop smart textiles and garments that can incorporate sensors, actuators, processing and communications.

The new fabrics, which will be constructed with rapid printing processes and active printed inks, will be powered by a range of new kinetic or thermal energy harvesting devices developed by researchers at the university.

According to the researchers, there is potential to gather a large amount of kinetic energy from human motion. It has been estimated that 67W of energy are available in each step. Whereas energy harvesting from heat can be derived by the human body through the conversion of thermal gradients to electrical energy using the Seebeck effect.