US Department of Commerce and IFAI to host first-ever Smart Fabrics Summit (updated Dec. 19, 2015) NEW DATE

US Department of Commerce and IFAI to host first-ever Smart Fabrics Summit

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced it will partner with the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) to host the first-ever Smart Fabrics Summit on April 11, 2016 (the date was moved from April 4!) in Washington, D.C. The Summit will provide a forum for public and private sector leaders in technology, apparel, and textiles to highlight recent developments in the smart fabrics industry, identify opportunities for collaboration, and discuss key industry challenges

Recent advances in technology have brought together the apparel, technology, and textile industries to develop new capabilities in fabrics with the potential to change how athletes, patients, soldiers, first responders, and everyday consumers interact with their clothes and other textile products. Known as ‘smart fabrics’, these new high-tech products have the capability to interact with their user or environment, including tracking and communicating data about their wearer or environment to other devices through embedded sensors and conductive yarns. The applications for this new technology are broad, with most smart fabric product development seen in the fields of defence, fitness, health, and public safety.

In the upcoming years, the smart fabrics industry will continue to make technological advances and expand into new, untapped markets. The world market for smart clothing is projected to grow from a base of USD 17.2 million in 2013 to approximately USD 600 million by 2020, according to research firm Tractica LLC.

As “America’s Innovation Agency”, the Department of Commerce plays a unique role in facilitating greater collaboration between the public and private sector leaders to spur new advancements in the industry and encourage the creation of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The Smart Fabrics Summit is an opportunity to discuss critical topics impacting the Smart Fabrics industry including research and development funding, privacy and data security, intellectual property rights, standards, classification, and health regulations.

The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) is the leading trade organization representing the advanced textiles industry. Founded in 1912, IFAI represents over 1500 member companies including manufacturers and suppliers of smart fabrics, shade fabrics and other specialty textiles.

To foster greater collaboration between the U.S. apparel, technology, and textile industries and to identify the public policies that could accelerate the design and manufacture of smart fabrics products by U.S. companies, the Department of Commerce in partnership with the Industrial Fabrics Association International will host the Smart Fabrics Summit on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Specifically, through a day of panel discussions and industry demonstrations, the Summit will bring together industries that need to collaborate in order for this emerging industry to meet its full potential and accelerate its development by U.S. companies. It aims to improve mutual understanding of the needs of private sector industries and the roles of public sector agencies, and spur original thinking among public and private sector organizations about how new or existing policies interact with future smart fabrics products.

The policy issues that will be explored at the Smart Fabrics Summit include: (1) research and development funding, (2) intellectual property, (3) standards, (4) import classification, and (5) health regulations.

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