This said, e-textile product designers continue to improve these systems, making the boxes less visible, more practical and overall minimizing any negative aspects that their presence may create. Some products have been demonstrated that can begin to move towards an option without a box. Some groups have demonstrated integration of electronic components directly into yarns; where components are small enough, they can be encased and connected, allowing integration of various sensor types. However, this is size limited, so unlikely to be feasible for larger components such as the battery. Nonetheless, this has been an interesting trend pursued by the like of Primo1D, Siren Care, Nottingham Trent University, and others.
Another idea to remove the box would be to minimise the volume that needs to be taken up by batteries. This could be by reducing the overall power consumption of the system, or by providing additional power to the device via a technique such as energy harvesting or wireless charging. Many of these ideas have been considered by e-textile companies. The report describes several techniques for energy harvesting in e-textiles, most of which are academic proof-of-concept so far, but some of which have been explored in a more commercial context. Similarly, wireless charging techniques, including RF charging, inductive charging, and so on, have also been explored by different companies in the space, and some examples of proposed partnerships and approaches are mentioned in the report.
A quarter of a century of commercial exploration around e-textiles has resulted in many companies that exist to serve this space, but still, the products remain outside of mainstream markets. As part of its report, IDTechEx Research has listed 200 players involved in this industry, spanning the entire value chain. The report is written to provide the most comprehensive overview of this emerging technology space, enabling readers to learn from the past, assess partners or competitors in the present, and plan for the future of this industry.
About the author:
James Hayward is a leading industry expert and Principal Analyst at IDTechEx - www.IDTechEx.com