Smart fabric to support UK soldiers' equipment

A breakthrough in textile manufacture could mean the UK military uniforms could become wearable computers in the not-too-distant future, according to US reports.

Intelligent Textiles has developed a fabric made out of fibres that can transfer electricity and data, which could eliminate the need for carrying additional batteries and cables.

In a demo, the firm has integrated the fabric into a vest, shirt, helmet, backpack and pair of gloves, which can be used to transmit power from a single battery to whatever piece of equipmnt a soldier needs to use. 

Because the fabric can also transmit data, Intelligent Textiles is working on a machine with a fabric keyboard to be used alongside the clothing to add that functionality.

As well as reducing the load soldiers have to carry around, ultimately the technology could help eliminate some of the power and data issues they face out in the field.

If the fabric gets cut, damaged or torn, soldiers will still have a way of re-routing the data.

The company has plans to field test the uniform  being supported by a £234,000 grant from the MoD in May and believes it could be in widespread use by as soon as 2014 or 2015.

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