Connected clothing: where are we?
Will “wearable computing” soon impose itself on the textile market?
Last September, the smart textiles sector was recognized as an innovation lever favorable to industrial recovery. François Hollande and the Minister of Productive Recovery Arnaud Montebourg, have integrated this sector among one of the 34 areas of the “Program of Investments for the Future”.
There are many fields of application for connected clothing: from the sports sector to health and the automobile sector, they are likely to use these new textiles for monitor or measure physiological or movement-related data.
In France, the Lyon-based Cityzen Sciences company, headed by Jean-Luc Errant, has specialized in this sector since 2008. Through its Smart Sensing project, it is developing an instrumented textile fiber making it possible to monitor the individual. Within the consortium led by Cityzen Sciences we find Eolane, Payen, Télécom Bretagne and the Cyclelab group, and industrial experts in the field of electronics, textiles, academics and distribution specialists in the world of cycling and running. Together, they develop technological building blocks and a process for industrializing their solution.
What fields of application?
If there are already diapers for babies that tweet when they need to be changed, or coats that swell as the number of “Likes” is counted on Facebook, the sectors for which these technologies will probably be developed in priority are those of health and sport.
The program Smart Sensing has already forged partnerships with sports clubs such as AS Saint-Etienne, Stade Toulousain or the basketball club L’Asvel. Athletes are equipped with connected jerseys equipped with sensors that measure plethora of data such as their pulse or the distances traveled.
What to do with the data collected?
Obviously, millions of new data concerning individuals will be exploitable, and will constitute new challenges for “Big Data”. According to Mathias Herberts, CTO and co-founder of Cityzen Data, “ The proliferation of sensors both in the environment and on individuals means that a substantial mass of data is produced. The creation of value linked to the use of this data requires historizing them over periods covering the seasonality of the events measured (for example a complete re-education, or a year in the case of transport, etc.) and at the highest level of granularity. thinner as possible (a smooth heart rate over 15 minutes is difficult to value). This volume gives rise to several challenges, on the one hand you have to be able to ingest all this data (one measurement taken every minute represents more than 500k measurements per year, one per second more than 30 million), but it is also necessary to be able to access and manipulate them in good conditions to be able to create value. The know-how necessary for this data management is very different from the know-how necessary for the creation of business value, departments in different verticals are therefore forced to allocate resources to themes that are certainly essential to the implementation of their services, but completely orthogonal. “
What size for this market?
Connected clothing represents a nascent market that has yet to emancipate itself. According to Gérard Sylvain Innotex in Roubaix, which supports innovative projects in textile design, affirms that “ if there are few projects in France, it is because the costs are heavy to bear. They require a lot of research and development. But the technology exists and the market remains buoyant, it should develop significantly in the medium term. “
Indeed, the size of the technical textile market is estimated at 5.5 billion euros in 2013.
Photo credit: Roosegaarde Waddinxveen