If current research is an indicator, wearable electronics will go far beyond just very small electronic devices. Not only will such devices be embedded on textile substrates, but an electronics device or system could become the fabric itself. Electronics textiles will allow the design and production of a new generation of garments with distributed sensors and electronic functions. Such e-textiles will have the revolutionary ability to sense, act, store, emit, and move (think biomedical monitoring functions or new man-machine interfaces) while leveraging an existing low-cost textile manufacturing infrastructure. Today, only a few steps towards new architectural possibilities of realizing circuit topologies that can be implemented with textile technique have been made: one an example of nonplanar devices and one of textile based devices. Researchers in Italy have now developed an organic field effect transistor (OFET) fully compatible with textile processing techniques.
Dr. Annalisa Bonfiglio's lab at the University of Cagliari in Italy is working on the assembly of electronic devices and circuits on textile substrates. This can be done by following two alternative approaches: a "top down" one, consisting of assembling devices to transfer on textile substrates and a "bottom up" approach consisting of assembling an electronic fabric starting from electronically functionalized textile basic components.
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