Researchers are hard at work developing textiles with optimal functionality:
tights that apply moisturizers, garments that absorb odours and regulate perspiration, fabrics capable of protecting themselves from spots.
Tomorrow's clothing will be intelligent and functional. Cosmetotextiles have already reached the market.
But the foreseeable uses of such fabrics go even further, extending even to medical applications. Today, we can produce textiles capable of monitoring certain bodily functions such as heart rate or breathing. And soon, clothing fitted with electronic sensors will be able to help the disabled in day-to-day life.
The use of optical fibres in textiles will be decorative – with illuminated knits and shining wall-coverings soon making up part of our daily environment
– and will have safety uses, since such fibres can be incorporated into emergency mats or safety clothing for outdoor wear.
The European Commission supports research on intelligent and functional textiles in Europe in the context of the Lisbon Strategy, which aims to refocus Europe's growth and competitiveness by bringing it fully into the knowledge-based economy.