Smart fabrics are primed to become mainstream given new innovative, functionalities being added to them every now and then. Take for example the latest development brought about by a group of researchers at the University of Washington (UW) – they have come up with a kind of smart fabric that could be a precursor to jackets that can store passcodes not visible and hence help you unlock your apartment or office door.
The team of scientists from UW have come up with fashion accessories and fabrics that can be a repository of data, ranging from identification tags to security codes, without any sensors or on-board electronics.
The technology involved hitherto untapped magnetic properties in a conductive thread. Through an instrument fixed in an existing smartphone to allow navigation apps, the data in them can be accessed.
The design is completely free of electronics, which means one can wash, iron, and dry the smart fabric like normal ones.
How does it work?
These days, most of us combine conductive thread, which carry electricity in the same way wires do, along with other kinds of electronics to manufacture outfits, accessories, or stuffed animals or those that communicate or light up.
The researchers from UW found out that the conductive thread has magnetic properties too that can be operated to contain digital data and visual information such as numbers or letters. The stored data can be deciphered by a magnetometer, which is present in majority of smartphones and can gauge the strength and direction of magnetic fields.
In one experiment, for example, they contained the passcode of an electronic door lock in conductive fabric on a shirt cuff. Then by swiping the cuff in front of different types of magnetometers, they unlocked and opened the door.