By gest author James Hayward, Senior Technology Analyst, IDTechEx
We are in contact with textiles for up to 90 % of our lives, and they are starting to become intelligent. The basis of this new functionality is the integration of textiles and electronics. From clothing to bandages, bed linen to industrial fabrics, new products integrating e-textiles are being created. The market has been slow to start due to many challenges, but with large companies investing heavily and releasing early products, this industry is poised to change very quickly as soon as the right conditions are achieved.
In their purest form according to the definition, e-textiles based on the integration of inherently electrically or electronically active fibres have begun to see integration into early products. However, with many associated challenges around reliability, performance and comfort, there has been a strong push towards other solutions that can achieve better properties including washability, stretchability and new functionalities. The result is a complex ecosystem of different material, component and connection options that are now available for product designers.
The IDTechEx report, E-Textiles 2017-2027, covers the entire e-textiles value chain, covering the wide range of materials (including metals, polymers, fibres, yarns, textiles (knitted, woven, embroidered, non-woven) and emerging materials) and components (sensors, connectors and the interface to traditional electronics, etc.) used today. It also presents a roadmap for the future, detailing over 30 different academic and early prototype products in areas such as new conductive fibres, stretchable electronics, energy harvesting, energy storage, logic and memory.
IDTechEx have produced a comprehensive guide to all of the key techniques in use throughout industry and research today. Key advances in the last five years have led to early commercial products, with the market having grown at double digit rate to reach around USD100m in annual wholesale revenue today. However, with global giants from both apparel and electronics assessing the sector and building their strategies, IDTechEx detail a likely scenario for growth over the coming decade. Specifically, the report describes how the significant investments being made will eventually enable mainstream commercial products, leading to a market approaching USD 5 billion by 2027.
The report describes the full value chain, looking from the material and component options, to the manufacturing challenges, through to the applications, markets and key end users. Trends by market sector are crucial, as the addressable markets are both large and diverse. The report characterises key market sectors including ‘Sports & Fitness’, ‘Medical & Healthcare’, ‘Wellness’, ‘Home & Lifestyle’, ‘Industrial, commercial, military’, ‘Fashion’ and ‘Others’ (including automotive). For each, we report on progress amongst key players and projects, as well as outlining the unmet needs and growth potential of each.
The forecasts for each sector are accompanied by detailed qualitative discussion for each sector. In fact, the forecast description cites examples of over 110 separate e-textiles projects grouped by company, with additional projects referenced throughout the report. This information has been compiled by IDTechEx via extensive primary research, with the report also containing summaries from key industry events, presentations and an additional 28 separate interview-based company profiles detailing key players. With continuous parallel research across the emerging technology ecosystem (including reports on conductive inks, stretchable electronics, wearable technology, printed electronics, printed and flexible sensors, the Internet of Things, emerging energy storage, and many more) IDTechEx has leveraged a broad network and experience across the team of expert analysts for this research. On top of this, IDTechEx hosts leading events covering e-textile technology, and the analyst team travels, speaks and meets companies globally each year. The result of these efforts enables this report to be the most comprehensive characterisation of the e-textiles industry today, and an excellent resource for any player involved or actively investigating this space.