Product design firm Cambridge Consultants has designed a novel wearable technology, called Xelflex, that acts as a sensor in tight-fitting garments. These sensors provide users with guidance and feedback on their movements and can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from sports, to physiotherapy, fitness and gaming.
Wearable technology, also known as wearables, fashionable technology, wearable devices, tech togs, or fashion electronics, are clothing and accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. While not many consumers will possess the technology yet, it is becoming more and more incorporated in people’s lives, and is already being used for healthcare purposes and gaming.
As to date, many of the wearable technologies rely on electronic components imbedded or attached to garments that are bulky, inelegant or difficult to wear, Cambridge Consultants has created a ‘smart’ textile that turns garments into active motion sensors, called XelfleX.
How does it work?
XelfleX consists of fibre-optic thread which acts as the sensor. The user will only need an additional small electronics pack which clips on to the fibre and communicates with a smartphone. By integrating the fibre into a close-fitting garment, the technique will measure the amount of bending at a defined sensor point in the fibre. Algorithms will subsequently turn the results from the different sensors into guidance that users can easily understand, giving feedback on their posture and movement, and coaching them on how to improve.
As the technology can be integrated in comfortable, washable, and robust clothing, and can endure heat or water, it can be used for a variety of purposes. Ranging from fitness and sports coaching, for example to help perfect ski techniques, to physiotherapy to help patients recover after injury, surgery or neurological problems, or to capture motion for gaming, film making and virtual reality applications. “Our aim was to create wearables that people actually want to wear. With XelfleX, the garment itself is the sensor and it allows you to create smart clothing that is low-cost, durable, useful and attractive to wear,” comments Martin Brock, inventor of XelfleX at Cambridge Consultants.