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 Smart Fabrics ? Wear your Augmented Interface

This story is from the category Augmenting Organics
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Date posted: 28/06/2005

There are a lot of differences between ipods and mobile phones, but one of the most ubiquitous is not one you might expect. Mobile phones have been around over a decade now, and still they are worn as an afterthought ? in bags, on the hip, banded around outside the body.

Ipods on the other hand, tend to be worn inside the clothing ? in many cases, donned before the actual clothing itself. This difference is one that a manufacturer of smart clothing has picked up upon.

U.K. component developer Eleksen Ltd is developing interactive clothing that interfaces with all manner of electronic device. The core product, ElekTex, is an electrically conductive fabric, which bends and flexes, just like normal clothing fibre, and is rugged enough to wear, or toss in the washing machine without complaint. ElekTex is used to build programmable circuit boards right into clothing.

Among the first applications of ElekTex was a rolled-up cloth keyboard for PDAs. The fabric is printed with an alphanumeric keyboard, but with another software interface, the same fabric can act as a digital drawing pad.

A recent deal with Eleksen offers some ElekTex products of its own, but primarily licenses ElekTex to consumer electronics and other manufacturers. The company recently did a deal with wetsuit and sports gear maker O?Neill, for example, is to integrate control pads for iPods and mobile phones directly into the weave of their next generation of sportswear and backpacks.

The technology can go a lot further. Because the ElekTex circuit boards are software programmable, and fully integrate with the clothing they could be used to map the movements of the body directly onto an interface for virtual environments ? your avatar copying your exact movements would be an example.

The technology is so versatile that the small company developing it, is already flooded with an over-abundance of firms willing to develop ElekTex.

See the full Story via external site: www.eleksen.com

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