It almost goes without saying that e-textiles connectors are one of the weakest points in the smart textile system. LumeoTech, a start up in Sweden, has taken a different approach and is creating a new type of connector & attachment solutions for wearable technology that does not require a permanent attachment on the garment.
Where Hard Electronics meet the Soft Fabric
The point where the hard electronics meet the soft fabric continue to be a pain point for developers. Each smart textiles product has its own proprietary connector. This has meant that every company has had to develop a costly solution for themselves, adding to the high risk and cost of product development. The common connector solutions have been magnets, clip-ons, push buttons, special pockets and snaps.
Collaborating with the Smart Textile department in Swedish Borås Science Park, LumeoTech found that when attaching a battery device using the attachment technology, it was also possible to establish electrical interconnects to a conductive fabric from the device. This resulted in the LumeoLoop™ Conductive connectors that eliminate the need for cables, specialized pockets, or a male-female button on the fabric. This makes it extremely easy to attach and detach the device and convenient to wash the garment without concern for damaging the connector in the fabric.
Avoid Moulding Connectors to the Fabric.
Lumeo is aiming to create a versatile solution that can be used for LED vests, e-heaters, safety sensors and more. Through micromechanics, LumeoLoop™ is a modular solution that creates thin temporary seams out of stainless steel that attaches the removeable hardware device usually containing the battery, bluetooth etc (or “brain” as they call it) to the fabric.
Unlike other connectors, LumeoLoop™ doesn’t require any part of the attachment to be moulded onto the fabric as other connectors do.
Case study: Making children visible
Firefly by Diffus Design Aps in Copenhagen is using LumeoLoop™ Conductive is their product. Firefly is a smart reflective vest for children that will change light settings dependent on the movement of the wearer. The vest will both encourage children to move together at the same time as it’s fulfilling the visibility of a normal reflector vest.
The LEDs that light up are integrated in the textile and made of conductive embroidery in order to keep flexibility and avoid bulky technology. The conductive embroidery is sealed between two layers of waterproof material and the vest is therefore waterproof and washable. All the conductive yarns meet at a point at the front of the vest and a ‘mother firefly device (a customized LumeoLoop™) is attached at this meeting point assuring that power and data are distributed throughout the textile circuit from this device.
LumeoTech designed the connector and housing for the “brain” of the Firefly vest and supported the go to market strategy. The project will be launched this fall on Kickstarter.
The future for LumeoTech
LumeoTech believes that the electronics we wear should be easy to use, flexible and gives the user greater freedom. By integrating electronics into clothing and textiles, this can become a reality. LumeoTech is keen to collaborate with other smart textile product developers to overcome the connector issues with the help of LumeoLoop™ technology.