Virtually amazing

August 7th, 2017 / By: / My Take

When I assigned an article on multi-functionality in protective textiles, little did I know that we’d be talking about virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) gaming technologies.

But we are.

It’s the sort of article that I am more likely to place under our “Out There” tab. That’s where the really novel, sometimes quirky, always fascinating uses for textiles usually run. This time, “out there” is right here – in work wear that is anything but ordinary.

Early adopters of AR and VR technology (and many gamers would land in that group) are always on the lookout for a more immersive experience, but what does that have to do with workplace safety, medical applications, first responders or warfighters? Connecting the dots, as it turns out, is not so difficult. It has to do with wearable technology that supports what the wearer does by responding to the wearer’s environment—another “pair of eyes,” you might say, or muscular support, or computer-precise sensing capabilities.

Multi-functionality in fabrics in a more traditional sense is still very important to the advanced textiles industry, and it isn’t easy to create a fabric that’s fire retardant, breathable, UV protective, comfortable, durable and washable. But now we’re talking fabrics that could be all of those things—and smart, too.

You’ll need to read Marie O’Mahony’s article “Extraordinary workwear” for a good overview of this relatively new segment of the industry. Bottom line, there’s no way these technologies could be truly wearable without textiles and the expertise of textile professionals who know how to make a product that someone would actually use.

Since this is so new, We’re especially interested in anything new that’s in development. If your company is working in this area, we would like to know about it, so we can continue the conversation about just how far out there protective work wear might go.