You probably won’t find many nanotechnologists at New York Fashion Week, but that may soon change thanks to the work of Felice Torrisi, a researcher at the Cambridge Graphene Center who is pioneering the future of wearable tech.
Earlier this year, Torrisi and his colleagues at Cambridge published a paper in Nature Communications that showed how to print fully-integrated washable and stretchable electronic circuits onto fabric.
Despite their prevalence in science fiction—from Marty McFly’s auto-fitted jacket in Back to the Future to the neonwave of Tron—wearable electronics have struggled to see wide adoption. Although there were some limited successes like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, these devices were either too cumbersome, ugly, or superfluous.
“The so-called wearable devices which we see nowadays have a huge limitation, which is in their rigid electronic parts,” Torrisi told me in an email. “Truly wearable devices will have to fulfill all the requirements of the clothes we wear, such as comfort, breathability, washability, and so on. We wear textiles every day, so integrating electronics using fabric was the most sensible thing to do.”
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