Industry experts drive initiative to advance e-textiles

Jan 4, 2021

The newly launched non-profit Smart Textile Alliance aims to codify standards and mature the supply chain for the emerging e-textile industry. The team behind it is industry specialists with years of experi-ence in the space. They now seek partnerships with companies who have solutions that can be lifted to a standard for use within the whole e-textile industry.

Smart textiles / e-textiles merge microelectronics with textiles, paving the way for innovative applications in various sectors such as sport and health. Over the years smart textiles have evolved organically in the periphery of electronics and textiles. Solutions and components developed have not been ‘interopera-ble’ leading to frustration and high costs during product development and manufacturing.

Health and sports are the fastest growing sectors for smart textiles. Smart Textile Alliance aims to codify standards and mature the supply chain for this emerging industry. © Smart Textile Alliance

Businesses in the past facing similar challenges at an early stage of a disruptive technology have success-fully overcome them through the formation of a neutral standards body and certification programs. This is true for the USB Implementers Forum, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and similar standardization initiatives that shifted the needle on innovation and growth of a new industry. The thoughts are that such an organisation is important right now for the smart textiles industry.

Smart Textile Alliance welcomes partnerships with companies and R&D institutions to develop solutions suitable for cloth. Connectors is one of the bottlenecks faced by many smart textile firms and something that urgently needs to be resolved. Christian Dalsgaard, head of Smart Textile Alliance, imagines that one day we will have a flat USB type connector that is washable and with a magnetic snap to click onto electronics. Only proprietary connectors of this sort exist on the market today and this limits the growth for everybody.

It’s a top priority for Smart Textile Alliance to develop a standard for washable connectors suitable for cloth. This Bodyplus connector is an example of the many proprietary solutions on the market.

“We take inspiration from how other groups have resolved barriers for growth and our mission is to ac-celerate cross-sector collaboration and nudge industry standards that can lift the smart textile industry to its full potential,” said Christian Dalsgaard. He took a step back from the company Ohmatex A/S in 2019 to work on this new mission together with Mili John Tharakan, a seasoned inventor-business leader, who has been practising in the field of smart textiles since 2004.

Mili Tharakan added, “Our hope is that we can help companies thrive in the smart textile industry by bringing plug-and-play solutions to the space. This will enable companies to focus on applications and their own particular expertise, rather than on how to make every component required for the smart textile product”.

Christian Dalsgaard and Mili John Tharakan work out of Aarhus, Denmark and London, UK respectively. When travel bans are lifted, the plan is to set up an office in London and secure funding for a task force team that can begin the standardization work, which is expected to be funded via sponsorships and donations and through contractual fees for the companies involved.

About Smart Textile Alliance:

Smart Textile Alliance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England in October 2020. The non-profit organisation aims to develop industry standards based on leading technologies and provide support for companies that are exploiting new opportunities within smart textiles.

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