clothes” are clothes that employ new technologies:
technological developments have made it possible to
integrate electronic components into conventional
garments. In demanding conditions, such as working
in heavy industries, very specific demands are placed
on work apparel and materials, as they must protect
the wearer from any hazards found in the working environment.
Smart clothes design offers new material technology
applications to make work apparel safer and more specifically
suited to the work and environment in question. Smart
clothes also make it possible for the wearer’s vital
functions to be monitored, using, for example, an
The goal of the Academy-funded
Models for Intelligent Garment Design (MeMoGa) research
project is to develop methods and models for the research
and design of smart clothes as well as to study matters
related to their usability and social acceptability.
The MeMoGa project approaches new, multidisciplinary
research fields through the research of clothing design,
fibre material technologies and physiology.
The material applications used
in new types of work apparel include impact-protective
materials, which can be divided into two categories:
phase change materials (PCMs) and auxetic materials.
"One example of phase change materials might
be d3o, which is made of ”smart molecules”. Phase
change materials move normally with the body, but
when impacted, they protect the wearer by instantly
hardening and then returning to their normal state
once the impact load is released," explains researcher
Mailis Mäkinen. Auxetic materials, on the other
hand, are energy-absorbing materials, whose cross-section
expands when stretched. "Auxetic materials include
metals, ceramic or polymer materials or composites.
These materials withstand pressure better than standard
materials," says Mäkinen.
Many challenges facing the
adoption of new materials
There are many challenges facing
the use of new materials. The use of innovative new
materials and integration of electronic and other
types of components into garments requires, for example,
the development of new types of testing methods and
Furthermore, the development
of materials, such as their mechanical properties,
temporal durability or functionality in various conditions,
may take a long time.
or other types of components in particular present
problems in the washing or maintenance of the garment.
In many cases the high cost of new materials discourages
User needs and desires play
a key role in the development of smart clothes
The needs and desires of work
apparel users are surveyed before beginning the design
of smart clothes, in order to ensure that the design
will meet the user’s needs as effectively as possible.
Before the design phase, it is important to identify
the user as someone who is generally open to the use
of technology and understand in what way a new technology,
such as electronic components, change the user’s perceptions
of the garment. This helps to predict how the technology
should appear in the garment, i.e. how invisible or
visible it can be.
A crucial part of ensuring
the user-orientation of smart clothes is a usability
assessment. A virtual prototype was developed for
this purpose in order to allow end users evaluate
a still non-existent smart garment before actually
building the actual, physical prototype. "A virtual
prototype involves such material as 3D models and
3D animations, which are used to present a realistic
iteration of the prototype to the user instead of
just showing them conceptual drawings. Animation makes
it possible to show how the prototype will be used
in a working environment, which demonstrates the smart
garment’s possible uses in a heavy industry environment,"
explains researcher Riikka Matala. The goal of assessment
is to make the user a part of the design process and
possibly reduce the need for producing expensive (at
this stage of development) and time-consuming physical
Intelligent garments are being
studied as part of the Academy’s PROACT Research Programme
The University of Lapland Department
of Textile and Clothing Design, Tampere University
of Technology Institute of Fibre Material Science,
and University of Kuopio Department of Physiology
are participants in the MeMoGa research project. The
project is part of the Academy of Finland’s Proactive
Computing (PROACT) Research Programme.
- PROACT Research Programme
and its Spring 2005 lecture series:
Programme Co-ordinator Greger Lindén, tel.
+358 (0)9 191 51233, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Smart clothes - Materials:
Researcher Mailis Mäkinen, Tampere University
of Technology, tel. +358 (0)3 3115 2494, email@example.com
- Smart clothes - User-oriented R&D:
Researcher Riikka Matala, University of Lapland, +358
(0)400 429 055, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Smart clothes - Monitoring of vital functions:
Researcher Niina Lintu, University of Kuopio, +358
(0)17 163 040, Niina.Lintu@uku.fi
Academy of Finland Communications
Information Specialist Terhi Loukiainen
tel. +358 (0)9 7748 8385, +358 (0)40 828 1784