Friday, 23 January 2009

Smart textiles make people feel better

The Swedish School of Textiles in Borås goes from strength to strength. It has not only transferred Sweden into one of the world’s most interesting textile research nations in just a few years time, it has also recently managed to raise money from the Swedish government for the next eight year to come. The school is mainly into smart textiles, which basically means weaving metal threads into fabrics. As metal leads electricity smart textiles can do anything from transmitting light to change pattern when they get warm, grow, to then shrink again and generate energy that they can later give off.
Smart textiles can also make you feel better while you’re in the hospital, as master student Marie Ledendal recently showed. She launched a project whereby movements in the hospital are tracked by sensors in corridors and entrances and triggers subtile colour changes on textile panels in the patients' rooms. When someone passes a sensor, signals are sent to a computer program that steers the electricity on to threads of copper embroided in the textiles. These then changes colours.
Marie says she likes to think of the textiles as a kind of subtile conversation between the patients and the movements in the hospital. I say I would much rather look at these changing textile walls than the usual white walls of a hospital.

Look at a film visualizing the project here. Or read the article I wrote (in Swedish) about the Smart Textiles project in Dagens Nyheter a few months ago here.

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