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Wired Textiles For a Phone as Useful as the Shirt on Your Back

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Wearable devices

An antenna panel also appears near the bottom of the vest's back, but is not visible in this image.

Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State University

Researchers at Ohio State University's ElectroScience Laboratory want to eliminate the need for cell phone hardware, such as Bluetooth earpieces, by developing communication devices out of clothing.

The research, led by John Volakis, is part of a larger technological effort to develop wearable fabrics with embedded electronics that can collect, store, send, and receive information. The researchers are focusing on sending and receiving information by embedding antennas into military apparel, hospital gowns, and T-shirts.

The U.S. military has previously tried to build antennas into combat gear, but their models lose communication when the antenna goes horizontal, such as when the soldiers, duck, crouch, or crawl. However, the new Ohio State system will overcome this problem. "You can flare the antennas out to cover a larger area," turning a single one-dimensional rod into multiple two-dimensional panels, says U.S. Army researcher Steve Goodall.

Volakis also wants to develop a hospital gown that can monitor vital signs and transmit data, such as heart rate, to medical professionals. In addition, he says smart textiles could improve the life of anybody that wants a stronger cell phone signal.

From The New York Times
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