Smart clothing of the future will automatically adjust itself according to the wearer’s actual needs
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. has developed new technology for the thermal, moisture and flow-technical behavior of smart clothing, automatically adjusting according to the wearer’s individual needs. The technology is also suited for use in medical and sports applications.
Responds to actual need
In its Smart Clothing project, VTT developed a technology that’s able to calculate whether the wearer needs to be cooled or warmed based on initial data measured from the person and the environment. Furthermore, this technology is able to determine the needed warming or cooling power so that the thermal sensation of the person wearing the smart clothing remains optimal in varying conditions.
The smart fabrics and clothing currently on the market faces the challenge of adjusting the individual temperature of a human body rapidly and automatically according to the wearer’s actual need. Based on the Human Thermal Model calculation tool developed by VTT, the new technology enables the calculation of a person’s individual thermal sensation, caused by differences in body composition, from the prevailing conditions. There are statistically significant differences between men and women, for example, because men have on average 5 to 15 kg more muscle mass than women.
This technology can be applied even in demanding conditions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, and in apparel used by police officers, firemen, soldiers, outdoor workers, athletes, as well as in applications for infants.
Wearable technology, for example, could surgeons if they get too hot during an operation. The clothing is constantly calculating and adjusting how much the surgeon’s body needs to be cooled.
“Hospital patients have been asked about their most unpleasant experience, and the most common answer is feeling cold; pain comes only second”, says Principal Scientist Pekka Tuomaala from VTT. For example, patients often feel cold after surgery. Body temperature can be individually adjusted, when a smart blanket identifies the person, measures the ambient temperature and adjusts the blanket’s temperature to meet the patient’s actual needs.
The Taiwan Textile Research Institute has already tested VTT’s methods in designing clothing for long-distance runners in different temperatures. The technology can also be utilized when developing solutions for athlete recovery after a sporting event.
VTT is looking for companies to join in the development process for market use.