Technology has once again met fashion as Peratech and the London College of Fashion have formed a partnership to develop wearable electronics.
Using Peratech's QTC sensor technology, it is claimed that these designs, part of a three and a half year PhD research project funded by an EPSRC ICASE award, will help the military conduct remote monitoring of personnel for stress and chemical attack.
It is also predicted that the sensors could be incorporated into clothing for everyday health monitoring as early indicators of health problems.
Peratech said its QTC materials have already been used to provide switches in clothing for a number of years. It said the core of QTC technology was that these materials change their resistance when a force is applied such as pressure.
Printing QTC inks on to textiles would enable simple on/off switches to be created but also because the resistance changes proportionally to the amount of force applied, areas of the cloth can become touch sensitive or can be made to recognise pressure inputs.
The company said the project would combine technology, design and user needs to work out how this growing area of wearable technology can be developed.
It said there were already glasses that provided computer displays, "but they lacked a simple way to input and interact with them".
Peratech believes that, using its technology, people could potentially print a keyboard onto a sleeve or onto the back of a glove and link it via Bluetooth to electronic glasses.
The material could also potetially detect the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Its printable QTC E-nose sensors work by the QTC material expanding in the presence of VOCs which changes the resistance of the QTC material, giving a quick response and recover times along with a high level of sensitivity.
Different formulations can be made according to the specific VOC to be detected so that low cost warning sensors and the associated electronics can be printed onto textiles to provide clothing that monitors the wearer for signs of illness, fatigue or exposure to dangerous chemicals, the company said.