Smart fabrics are special fabrics which can sense and respond to environmental conditions or impetuses from mechanical, chemical, thermal, magnetic, electrical or other sources, says Market Intelligence-Fibre2Fashion.

Talk innovation in fabrics and you think of smart fabrics. Smart fabrics are a combination of traditional fabrics with different technologies like sensor and actuator technology, material science, communication, structural mechanics, advance process technology, biology or artificial intelligence.

Smart fabrics can be categorised into four different types, based on functionality and responses:

1. Passive smart fabrics: These only sense the environmental conditions and impetuses. They are sensing fabrics. They sense different conditions of the environment like change in temperature, colour, shape and electrical resistivity.

2. Active smart fabrics: These fabrics not only sense environmental conditions and impetuses but also respond. So, they are sensing and responding fabrics.

3. Ultra smart fabrics: These fabrics have triple the functions like sensing, responding, and reacting as per environmental conditions and impetuses.

4. Fabrics with even higher level of intelligence: These fabrics use special artificial intelligence with computers.

List of materials used in the construction of smart fabrics:

- Conductive inks

- Nano fibres

- Optical fibres

- Metal fibres

- Organic semiconductors

- Nano particles

- Integrally conductive polymers

- Shape memory fabrics

- Phase change materials

- Chromic material

  •         Photo chromic material

  •          Thermo chromic material

  •         Electro chromic material

  •         Piezoro chromic material (Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) films)

  •        Solvate chromic material

- Quantum tunneling composites, change from insulator to conductor

-Here are a few examples of smart materials used in the construction of smart fabrics:

- Smart fabrics made with the use of embedded optical fibres which reflect light back in the broken ends

- Acoustic emission material used smart fabric emits sound under high stress

- Microporous breathable smart fabric