Dia Campbell, TechStyle Specialist, at Spark Fun will be presenting "Bringing Smart Textiles to Makers and the DIY Community" at Smart Fabrics 2012. We asked Dia to share some of her thoughts on the industry, and where she sees it going in the next few years.
In your opinion, what are the hottest technologies and trends affecting the Smart Fabrics Industry?
The projects and applications I see and love are more frequently user-end maker projects, but the trendiest, most exciting stuff, the stuff that just really sets me on fire are garments that enable or add interest to social interaction. This can be projects meant to stimulate conversation, or that react to human interaction, or that are designed to augment social media.
Where do you see this market moving forward in the next 5 years? What would you like to see developed?
To me, that human aspect is going to be a huge part of seeing smart wearables become a part of day-to-day life, rather than a novelty, which is very much the goal as I see it. I'm looking for a day 5 or 10 years in the future where your e-wardrobe is as indispensable as your iPhone. Big things that I'm waiting for include affordable flexible displays and power supplies -- imagine the applications!
What are the challenges for bringing products to market?
I think the hard part is convincing people that electronics can be as warm, as flexible, and as comfortable as they expect fabrics to be -- that they can add this new level of functionality to something that has always been soft and personal. There's an intimacy to fabric that you don't expect of electronics, and mentally making the connection between these two can be difficult. And, of course, there's bringing the cost to the consumer down!
Who are you looking forward to hearing at the 2012 conference?
I'm really happy to see that there will be discussion of some newer flexible products, and I'm particularly interested in seeing Geneviève Dion and Leon van de Pas -- I'm not sure what to expect from their talks, but my interest is piqued!