Electronic Textile

What Does Electronic Textile Mean?

An electronic textile (E-textile) is a type of fabric that contains electronic elements. In general, the development of electronic textiles supports the idea of wearable computing, or electronic devices worked into garment designs. However, there are other applications of electronic textiles, such as interior design technologies, that also rely on integrating electronic components into fabrics or fibers.

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An electronic textile may also be known as a smart textile.

Techopedia Explains Electronic Textile

Within the relatively new industry around electronic textiles, projects are pursued based on various different kinds of functionality. Some electronic textile products may only be built for data storage, while others provide physical interfaces through control elements in the garment design.

In some cases, power sources such as batteries can also be integrated into clothing or fabrics. Some experts talk about the difference between embedding electronic devices in fabric, or actually layering conductive electronics into textiles to "make the fabric into the computer." For example, some projects in the works include the "musical jacket," which uses MIDI and other technologies to provide garments that generate electronic music.

Although the practical applications of this technology are very new, some projects involving electronic textiles and intelligent garments do exist now. Many of these are aimed at uses within the health care industry, where wearable computing elements can be used to monitor vital signs and otherwise track a person’s health in real time.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.