SMIT is a technology woven into fabric which could be used to make clothes to monitor potential falls of an elderly wearer or the heart-rate of a patient. The development of new interactive materials incorporating sensors or communications technologies will transform how everyday objects function, and produce novel medical and engineering applications.
“SMITs can be used in areas such as body armor, artificial muscles, biochemical hazard protection, physiological status and location monitoring as well as embedded communications and computing,” says the report.
“It can sense electrical, thermal, chemical, magnetic or other stimuli in the environment and adapt or respond to them using functionalities integrated into the textile’s structure,” it adds.
SMITs do not have a fixed set of characteristics, but are an active element that works with their own control and response mechanism. For example, the MyHeart project, an EU Framework Program 6 project, utilized integrated sensor technology to improve physical activity, nutrition, sleep and stress, as well as to monitor cardiac rhythms for early diagnosis and prevention of a range of heart problems including myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiac arrest.
“The fashion industry is also a potential key market for SMITs,” states the report. Philips has developed technology that integrates LED’s into fabrics, while researchers have developed ‘second skin’ that acts as an emotional layer to deliver mood-responsive aromas and pheromones.
The design industry may make increasing use for SMITs in both clothing and other applications such as clothes that interact with wallpaper or react depending on the input of a remote person.
Thus, SMITs is emerging as a technology to be used in the fields of health and fashion which can generate billions for the UK economy in future.
The research report is developed by the Foresight program, which is a part of the UK Government Office for Science within the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills. It works to stimulate and inform the development of more effective strategies, policies and priorities at national and international levels.
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