On September 6, 2017, the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH, South Korea) and Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU, South Korea) jointly with the Institut für Textiltechnik (Institute of Textile Technology ) of RWTH Aachen University (ITA, Germany) opened the Smart Textronics Centre in Ansan City, South Korea, with a festive tape-cutting ceremony:
This unique global cooperation brought the outstanding competences of the partners and their respective countries together, to allow them – in cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises from both countries – to mass produce smart textiles and to start an international R&D program. ITA, as part of RWTH Aachen University, stands for automated textile production, which is constantly advanced in the Smart Textronics Centre in Aachen. The Korean partners in turn bring their excellent know-how in the area of textiles, consumer electronics and digitalisation to the table.
What are Smart Textronics?
Smart Textronics are intelligent textiles with electronic features. In this context “smart” stands for “intelligent” and „textronics” is a neologism, bringing together „textiles“ and „electronics“. The goal of the Smart Textronics Centre is the development of intelligent electronic textiles for healthcare, sport, outdoor, and protective gear applications. Additional applications lie in the areas of smart wear, smart homes, and smart furniture. This can entail wearable textiles with electronic functions, textile products with integrated electronic components, smart textiles, electronic fibres, fibre-electronics, and textile electronics. In its activities, the Smart Textronics Centre in Ansan focuses on the main themes of healthcare, smart wearables, and smart home. The significance of the opening was shown by the attendance of multiple prominent guests from South Korea and Germany. These included:
- Mr Sung-il Yi, Ph.D.: President of KITECH (comparable to the Fraunhofer Society in Germany)
- Mr Dong Keun Kim, Ph.D.: Vice-Governor of South Korea’s Gyeonggi-Province (comparable to the Vice Prime Minister of a German Federal State)
- Mr Jong Geel Je, Ph.D.: Mayor of the City of Ansan, South Korea
- Mr Myeong Hyo Jung, Chairman of the Gyeoggi Textile Industries Association
- Prof. Dr Ji Beom Yoo, Executive Vice President of SKKU (comparable to a vice university rector)
- Mr Min Gun Lee, Master, Chairman of Ansan City Council
- Mr Kang Suk Lee, Master, Chairman of Gyeonggi Technopark
- Mr Marcel Philipp, Lord Mayor of the city of Aachen, Germany
- Prof. Dr Thomas Gries, Head of the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University
- Prof. Dr Frank Thomas Piller, Head of Group Technology and Innovation Management (TIM)
- Dr Leif Oppermann, Head of the Department of Mixed and Augmented Reality Solutions of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.
So-called wearables – mini or microcomputers which are woven into the garments which are often connected to the internet – can carry out impressive functions, such as tracking movement or monitor their wearer’s heart rate. Possible functions include the tracking and monitoring of bio signals and of surroundings and individually adjustable support entailing heating, lighting and cooling functions. These are core components of healthcare, smart wear, smart home, protective gear, sport and outdoor activities areas. Smart textronics are the main business model in the wearables industry.
How do the partners work together?
The partners complement each other and have agreed to open a Centre for Smart Technologies in their respective country. ITA already opened its Smart Textronics Centre on November 16, 2016 in Aachen, Germany.
How does the project proceed?
The Smart Textronics Centres concentrate on the development of intelligent textronics products and patterns with already existing technologies and materials like textile sensors, heaters, and lighting functions.
In the mid-term, the goal is to integrate advanced technologies, like textile-based generators or fuel cells into the intelligent textronics products and patters.
Tape-cutting ceremony, source: KITECH