Smart fabric market set to boom, but cost effective products needed

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If smart fabric manufacturers overcome existing business challenges, the market has the potential to grow to $2billion by 2018, according to market researcher Frost & Sullivan.

The report, called Technology Innovations in Smart Fabrics, says market segments in the spotlight will include digital fabrics, energy harvesters and nano based sensors and communications electronics. However, the report adds that smart fabric manufacturers must now carry out solid component and electrical optimisation in order to offer products with best in class durability and reliability.

The report claims 'strong adoption of smart fabrics will lead to huge growth in the field of sports and fitness by 2016. Other lucrative application sectors include fashion and entertainment, as well as protection and military. More innovations and newer products are expected in all these areas. Other sectors will witness steady innovations and gradual growth'.

"Developing advanced smart fabrics has become important as the need for these products increases in targeted applications in the sports and fitness and personal protective equipment industry," noted research analyst Sanchari Chatterjee. "Ensuring that smart fabrics used for healthcare or sports products yield accurate readings to monitor health-related parameters has been especially vital."

However, Chatterjee points to high processing and end product costs and notes the cost of garments has been shooting up as sophisticated chips and circuits are added to smart fabrics systems. Cost effective alternatives are needed, he continues, to make reasonably priced smart fabrics with additional features a reality.