New Horizons in Science

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Smart textiles: Transforming our relationship with the space around us

Topic: Technology/Engineering
Textured Shima knitted textile. Image: Felecia Davis.
Textured Shima knitted textile. Image: Felecia Davis.
Sunday, October 27, 2019 -
3:30pm to 4:30pm

Most of us know a bit about wearable technology through devices like the Fitbit and Apple Watch. Felecia Davis looks far beyond consumer applications in work knitting together embedded electronics and soft textiles, seeing a transformation of our relationship to the space around us. Her textile systems can sense their environment and be programmed to use the quality of the material itself in connection with environmental cues such as humidity, temperature and light. Davis will talk about medical applications of smart textiles: leggings to aid in Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, and a “cough shirt” for pulmonary fibrosis patients. She also is working on a soft tent for emergency shelter that would collect solar energy and emit light. As a faculty member in an architecture school, she is concerned with the new concepts of “walls” that are emerging in the age of pervasive digital technology—how privacy, boundaries and social norms are affected when physical spaces are replaced by digital ones.


Textured Shima knitted textile. Image: Felecia Davis with permission.


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