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Just Like Being There: APEX 2018 & the Future of E-Textiles

E-textiles are not new. In the electronics industry, we’ve been eyeing this new market for years. However, they have promised much and delivered little this far. Now, though, new materials are constantly being developed in the space ranging from fibers to polymers and inks. Many believe the adoption of these materials, as well as interest from the larger apparel brands will drive the industry towards a tipping point. The market may be as small as $100 million currently, but itis slated to be as high as $5 billion in ten years’ time and that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Imagine garments that can sense pulse, skin temperature, salt or sweat levels, stress, attentiveness, and more. The possible applications for innovators are endless. Sports, fitness, and, of course, medical technology, all seem the likely applications for e-textiles and deliver clear potential and benefits.

Currently challenges exist throughout the value chain with a lack of cooperation between the electronics industry and the apparel industry, but breakthroughs are happening and partnerships developing. It seems likely that one brand will lead with a killer application that will light the touch paper and ignite this sector, moving it from hype to real potential.

Following a busy Buzz Session on the topic at APEX 2018, I sat down  with several heavy hitters to dig deeper into the topic.  I spoke with Chris Jorgensen, director, technology transfer at IPC; Stephanie Rodgers, director of product research & development at Apex Mills; and Connie Huffa, president & textile They engineer, Fab Design.  joined me to explore all things flexible, stretchable and wearable.

Filmed on location in San Diego at the SCOOPstudio with sponsorship from Aegis Software, Cogiscan, Fuji America, Jabil, KIC, Koh Young, and Radius Innovation.

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