The Fibre of the Future

German scientists have developed fibres that have photo-electrical capabilities, which could theoretically power electronic items such as mobile phones or electronic organisers.

The New Scientist reports on how these fibres could be woven into regular material to make machine-washable clothes with this power-generating property. There are a number of applications for the new technology, from developing a power source for wearable computers to sailing boats with solar-powered sails made from this wonder fibre.

These prototype devices have been designed by IDEO and manufactured from ElectroTextiles ElekTex™ fabric which combines conductive fabric structures with microchip technology. It is lightweight, durable, flexible, cost competitive and affords designers new opportunities in designing contoured and portable products for emerging product markets.

“Our premise is that soft technology, in the form of smart interactive fabrics, should not be relegated only to ‘wearables’ or to futuristic inventions. The technology is available for designing into products now” commented Chris Chapman, development director, ElectroTextiles. “Using a combination of our flexible ElekTex soft technology and the design skills of IDEO we believe it is possible to build products that combine all the functionality of their hard cousins with the benefits and intrinsic appeal of soft devices. WorkSpheres demonstrates that these products are not only viable, but can dramatically change the way we communicate.”

Workspheres examines the balance between work and life, and the important role designers play in devising effective solutions for the ever-changing work paradigms. The exhibition features six built concepts of work tools and environments designed by Naoto Fukasawa of IDEO; Martí Guixé; Hella Jongerius; Lot/Ek Architects; the MIT Media Laboratory/John Maeda and Joe Paradiso; and a team made up of Jeff Reuschel and Ronna Alexander, Brian Alexander, Christopher Budd, Kevin Estrada,and Brad Paley. The concepts bring to life realistic visions of the nearfuture and range in size and type from entire working environments to computer interfaces and personal accessories. The exhibition also presents a selection of prototypes already under development and available products that are designed with sensible and sensitive attention to the way we really want to work.


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