What can e-textile learn from these examples?
Trends and movements toward standardization and/or merging are already happening in textile and electronics. In 2004, when I started out in e-textile, we had to develop our own conductive yarns. This is no longer necessary because many yarn manufacturers have developed a variety of very good products with excellent conductive properties and strength. The IPC D-72 E-Textiles Materials Subcommittee is now able to finalize a standard IPC-8921, covering requirements for conductive fibers and conductive yarns, including standardized key characteristics, durability testing, and industry test methods.
Such standards are the result of a retrospective effort. What’s needed to speed it up is a proactive development in both the electronics and textile industries to define standards for a more comprehensive microsystems architecture.
SmartX-Europe has taken a stab at doing this, but as you can see, it’s still a pretty complicated framework in which the two industries have yet to really merge. Also, End-of-Life needs more elaboration, since sustainability has become a major factor in the whole process of e-textile.
If we stick to this model, I think that the e-textile industry as a whole should concentrate on the two left-hand green “bubbles”: Textile Electronics Objects Assembly and Smart Textiles Assembly.
The OSI seven-layer model for communication stacks became the reference model for not only protocols, but also physical components like Ethernet connectors, routers, and switches. Having such a framework could be a great step for smart textiles. I could envision a model consisting of four layers.