What Makes This Chip-Free Tech Fabric so Innovative #WearableWednesday #wearabletech #tech

This rough looking tie is not a new hipster statement; it’s an example of fabric that can hold data according to a post in DesignNews. A research team at University of Washington has created magnetic fields in textiles, opening up many potential uses. Imagine swiping your tie at the front desk to check in for work.

The fabric and accessories created from the fabric can store data–such as security codes and identification tags–without sensors or electronics by using previously unexplored magnetic properties of off-the-shelf conductive thread, he said. An instrument embedded in existing smartphones that enables navigation applications can read the data.

The team magnetized conductive thread, which could be sensed with a magnetometer. Justin Chan, a doctoral student on the project explains the technique.

Using conventional sewing machines, the team embroidered these conductive threads into regular textiles, and then polarized each cell with a north or south pole to embed a 0 or 1, he said. Specifically, they took a thin 5-millimeter strip of conductive fabric, divided it up into 2-centimeter long cells, and embedded a bit onto each cell, Chan explained.

Although we’ve seen examples of embedded textiles, this conductive thread process really creates a simplicity for data. I’m certainly curious about the extent of storage. Perhaps in the future a scanned garment could reveal a magazine. Conductive thread is popular for soft circuits like bookmarks, felt pillows and clothing. Find out more about this touchable form of tech with our learning guide and then create your own textile experiments.

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