|A Univeral Serial Bus (USB) cable was manufactured into a thin, flexible and wearable cable with flat, low-profile connectors that can be integrated into clothing.
"Plug it in anywhere" may actually mean anywhere you choose even if an outlet is not within reach, if electro-textiles become widely available in the market. Electro-textiles are conductive materials that are woven or integrated into fabrics. These fabrics offer alternative methods for data and power transmission than are currently in use.
A Univeral Serial Bus (USB) cable was manufactured into a thin, flexible and wearable cable with flat, low-profile connectors that can be integrated into clothing.
The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center is working to incorporate Electro-textiles into clothing. This would enable clothing to transmit signals to equipment a soldier is carrying. They are working to incorporate a product developed by Foster Miller under an SBIR project into their clothing. This technology will turn otherwise passive clothing and other fabrics into an integral part of the soldier's electronic/communications systems. Foster Miller is also developing a textile antenna product. Possible applications in housing include incorporation into carpeting or wall finishes to transmit controls and other signals.
The SBIR program initially focused on integration of a USB into fabrics, since USB is commonly used with desktop computers. The normal cable arrangement was manufactured as a thin, flexible material. The ARMY plans to eventually employ fabric-based cables and connections for wearable applications.
This technology has already resulted in a commercial application. Malden Mills, of Lawrence, MA, has successfully integrated this technology into their Polartec electric blanket. Malden Mills was interested in producing an electric blanket that did not come with the traditional bulky wiring and was thus more flexible. The blanket is heated with a low-voltage current. It uses about the same power as a 100 watt bulb. The blanket can even be machine-washed and dried at home. It is distributed exclusively through Land's End.
Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command
Phone: (508) 233-5656