E-textiles Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of of Electronics and Computer Sci

Abstract

The UK's textiles and clothing industry makes a significant contribution to the economy employing over 130,000 individuals and is experiencing resurgence with production rising by 2.5% over the last two years to a value of £9.1 billion. E-textiles are an emerging and enabling technology with broad potential applications in many areas such as clothing, home furnishing, workwear, sports, medical, architecture and automotive. The e-textiles market is forecast to grow from $100 million to $5 billion by 2027. E-textiles can also be used in many other emerging areas such as wearable technologies and IoT.

This proposal is to create an E-textiles Network community to bring academia, industry and end users together to identify research challenges and catalyst the collaboration to address these challenges. The e-textiles network will ensure widely dissemination and knowledge exchanges using variety of mechanisms. In particular, the annual two-day conference will bring the community together to disseminate the research findings and engage with industry and end users.

While network will be co-ordinated by the University of Southampton, the priorities and activities will be driven by a steering board with balanced representation from a range of other universities, companies, end users and policy makers. The success of the proposed network will ensure the UK keeps its leading role in the innovation and manufacturing of e-textiles.

Planned Impact

E-textiles will enable a huge range of new textile products that will revolutionise the textile industry and industries that use e-textiles such as fashion, healthcare/medical, sports/fitness, automotive, interior design and workwear. The network proposal includes 17 project partners of which 7 are companies involved in the development of e-textiles and 2 represent significant potential end users (Home Office and Dstl). In addition to the initial project partners, we will recruit new network members from industry in both the technology provider and end user communities.

We will encourage the communication, engagement and collaboration through the actions described in the Pathway to Impact. The network members from industry will benefit from the network by having the access to the leading research developed in academia, and facilitate collaborations that will accelerate the technology transfer from academia to industry. This will lead to economic benefits to the whole supply chain by improving sales and creating new job opportunities.

The end users members (e.g. emergency services, military) will benefit by having the opportunities to present their needs to researchers from both academia and industry. The network will inform research activities enabling researchers to address end users requirements. E-textiles have broad applications across multiple sectors and many of these have the potential for significant social impact. For example, e-textile based wearable health monitoring can facilitate ambient assisted living scenarios and patient monitoring leading to improved health/wellbeing.

The network will work together to identify research challenges and the findings of these workshops will be presented to policy makers and funding bodies. The network will act as an interface facilitating communication between technology developers and policy makers.

Publications

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