Wearable technology is growing fast right now. What’s thriving in the market right now are activity trackers that can be worn on your wrist or clip to your clothes. Soon smart fabrics will be an extension of those trackers and maybe even replace them.
Wondering how this technology impacts running? Is there even a place for smart fabrics in running or is this just a fad?
In this post, I’ll detail what smart fabrics are and what it means for the future of running.
What are Smart Fabrics?
You’ll soon see the term smart fabric appearing more often, if not for running, in fashion. This design consists of textiles combined with electrical elements. For the runner, that would be sensors and actuators. These devices would gather data on your run and provide feedback and measurements.
There have already been some companies out in front as it relates to fitness. I’ve covered Athos and Sensoria . The technology is well…cool. Sensors placed strategically in the clothing that elicit feedback on physical performance.
But the term smart fabric shouldn’t be just limited to all things digital. Smarter running shirts will hit the market that can mimic the human skin. Currently, research is ongoing at the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) to:
If you’ve been keeping up with your Amplify reading, you know lately I’ve been on a nanotechnology kick. The nanosuit is kind of a pipe dream of mine. The suit could potentially regulate body temperature and now based on what’s happening at UC-Davis control perspiration.
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Do Smart Fabrics Have a Place in Running?
Since writing the “Building the Nanotech Runner” series, I see the future of running involving a number of smart technologies. I don’t believe it will be limited to just high performing runners. Instead, the smart fabric technology will continue to bring in more runners.
The smart fabric technology has to be refined to really go mainstream. Placing a bunch of sensors on a running shirt makes it kind of smart.
Smart fabrics need to provide functionality and utility. Smart fabrics have to be invisible. The blow image from Fashioning Tech illustrates my point.
If smart fabrics only measure your energy output on a run, why not just use an activity tracker? Now integrate a smart fabric that measures energy output, muscle use, regulate body temperature, and maybe even compression when you need it AND have it be invisible – now that’s a smart fabric.
Final Thoughts on Smart Fabrics
The market will soon be heavy with “it” smart fabrics. You’ll see the ads and you might wonder if it’s worth your money. If you’re the type of person that’s an early adopter, then it probably worth the investment.
I want to see more mainstream smart fabrics before putting down hard earned money. This might mean waiting another couple of years. For now, an activity tracker and a mobile app is my weapon of choice while running.
Until the term smart fabric brings about significant, game-changing attributes to a runner, I’ll just continue to use my technical, sweat wicking running shirts.0