Future clothing technology may help in expressing emotions

Your dress may help you express in the future. This is what is perceived by Kazuaki Yazawa, a scientist at Discovery Park’s Birck Nanotechnology Centre at Purdue University. Yazawa has developed thermoelectric semiconductor strings that could be woven into fabric or other surfaces to generate heat, and convert that energy into electrical power.

This new generator takes heat from any type of complex surface it meets and converts it into a small amount of electricity. It addresses the limitations of conventional thermoelectric generators, according to Yazawa. The most important part of Yazawa’s research is that it shows that the specially designed fabric could help harness human body heat and provide energy to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices including heart and respiration monitors.
“The flexible power device could help to bring various electronics into clothing and fabrics and change the fashion quite a bit. Perhaps, your dress in the future may express something by LED, or changing its colour, or interactive displays, etc, to heighten personal expression, as an example,” Yazawa says in an exclusive interview with Fibre2Fashion. As the technology matures, there would be many opportunities to integrate with fashion and other areas.

Yazawa, who has been thinking of body heat recovery since the mid-1990s, developed a generic method to harvest maximum heat energy with thermoelectrics over a recent decade of academic research. Woven fabrics were discovered to fill a need for a flexible energy conversion device, he says.

The scientist says that the technology is in an early stage of development and there will have to be a variety of future research to explore many types of fabrics and applications for fashion. However, a first step may be in sporting/athletic gear-to-wear.

According to him, the technology will benefit users since there is no need to carry bulky, heavy batteries, or charge the device.

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