20 April 2016
Taiwan Looks to Set World's First Smart Clothing Standards
Taiwan is taking a lead in innovation and statutory requirements in the smart clothing sector.
While smart clothing has long been hailed as the next big thing in both tech and fashion, it has yet to make any real impact in either sector. With a number of international sportswear brands now keen to deliver on the early promise shown by such garments, several of Taiwan's textile companies have proved willing partners. This has seen them lean heavily on support from the Taiwan Textile Research Institute (TTRI) and the Industrial Technology Research Institute, while also looking to set the first industry-wide standards for smart clothing.
A prime example here is EverSmile, a smart clothing brand developed by Everest Textile, a clothing manufacturer based in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan. The company specialises in vertical integration manufacturing, yarn twisting, weaving, dyeing, printing, laminating and special finishing. It also prides itself on developing value-added and innovative products to a number of globally leading brands in the sports, outdoor, casual wear and fashion sectors. In March this year, the company launched the first of its new generation of smart garments, products said to utilise the very latest in high-tech dynamic stretch fabrics.
In addition to monitoring pulse rate, the company's new smart garments can also estimate calorie consumption and make recommendations as to appropriate exercise regimes. Its data can be transmitted to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, while the garment's ultra-thin chip can easily be removed prior to washing.
As well as Everest's innovative approach to the sector, a number of other biomedical technology companies are also investing heavily in the development of smart healthcare wearable technology. The innovations currently on the horizon are said to include clothing that can monitor pulse rates, cardiac conditions and body temperature. Other companies are said to be trialing footwear that can gauge and analyse any wearer's running patterns.
In other developments, both the TTRI and the Industrial Technology Research Institute have called on textiles and electronics companies, medical institutions and certification centres to establish a cross-industry strategic alliance across the whole of the smart clothing sector. This is part of Taiwan's bid to be one of the first in the world to introduce industry-wide standards for the smart clothing sector. The initiative is already said to command wide support across the territory.
At present, there are no unified standards with regard to such issues as colour fastness and perspiration resistance in the smart garment sector. This means, for example, that there are no guidelines as to how many washes a garment should withstand in order to be deemed colour fast. The introduction of unified standards, then, is seen as an important step in legitimising the sector over the long-term.
Tammy Hsieh, Taiwan Office