In this article from IDG News Service, John Blau writes that Infineon has created a smart fabric that could offer help in an emergency. Here are some details about this "intelligence by the meter" concept.
Researchers at Germany's Infineon Technologies have demonstrated how a self-organizing network of chips woven into large textile surfaces, such as carpets, could someday be used to monitor buildings, provide directions in an emergency, and more.
At the company's Emerging Technology Lab in Munich, the research team showed how robust chips embedded into industrial fabrics in the form of a checkerboard are able to monitor temperature, pressure, vibration, and motion, Infineon said Monday in a statement. The "intelligent" fabrics could, for instance, be used as motion or fire detectors.
Here is a small image showing these "intelligent" textiles.
A larger image is available directly from Infineon.
And how does this work?
Each chip in the checkerboard design is connected to its four immediate chip neighbors by extremely fine, electrically conductive threads, which allow the chip to exchange information with the others. The design forms a self-learning, fault-tolerant network. If, for instance, a chip or conductive path fails, the network automatically locates the fault and immediately reorganizes itself, finding a new path via the neighboring chips to maintain the information flow.
Infineon is busy these days experimenting with fabrics, like you can see in a former column about wearable computers, "Normal Clothing with Electronics Sown In?"
For example, here is what Infineon's wearable MP3 player looks like.
For more information, you can read two press releases from Infineon, here and there.
Source: John Blau, IDG News Service, May 5, 2003
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