Work on a smart jacket with knitted switches and washable, energy-efficient electronics. Photograph: IMMS.
Work on a smart jacket with knitted switches and washable, energy-efficient electronics. Photograph: IMMS.

Smart Jacket

Design and implementation of an ultra-low-power electronics for wireless transmittion of switch commands

A knitted and washable remote control for better daily living

For almost everybody reading this, reaching for the remote will be obvious and automatic. But if one literally has one’s hands full – or perhaps not when mobility is restricted by accident, illness, disability or the frailty of old age – even a little button can become a real barrier. If it were possible to control machines, lighting, furniture or games simply with a nudge of the arm against the back of an armchair or other solid object, those everyday barriers might fall. And in industry, for example, the control of machinery might be extended.

With these thoughts, Strick Zella GmbH & Co.KG, ITP GmbH Weimar and IMMS developed a potential solution: the prototype of smart clothing that one wears and can use as a remote control. The prototype is a jacket with three knitted switch patches in different colours. The ”wool“ in the two outside layers of the patch conducts electricity and there is a loosely knitted middle pad. This padding ensures the user can feel that switching is happening. It also controls the electrical contact. If the switch patch is compressed, the two conducting layers come into contact and the software in the jacket processes the signal, which is then sent wirelessly to the intended receivers over a distance of up to 30 meters.

The choice of receivers for the knitted switches can be preset using an app in a mobile phone. The item of clothing with all its functionality including battery can be washed at up to 60°C and will work for up to three years without needing a battery change. There are no such systems as yet on the market.

IMMS’ role has been to design, create and integrate the energy-efficient electronics, selecting energy-saving components and optimising their interaction. In association with these tasks, the Institute has produced solutions for the power supply, radio link, and configuration by app as well as the provision of assured functionality. Strick Zella is promoting the outcome of all this work under the name Knitty-Fi.

It is the intention to work with IMMS towards mass production.

  • Funding

    The SmartJacket ZIM project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) by resolution of the German Federal Parliament under the reference KF2534511CJ4 as a joint project in the ZIM scheme (a central innovation programme supporting SMEs).

Duration

2015 – 2016

Reference

KF2534511CJ4