Information displays on clothing give feedback

Researchers from Holst Centre, imec and CMST, imec's associated lab at Ghent University, have demonstrated what they claim to be the world's first stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor (TFT) driven LED display laminated into textiles. This paves the way to wearable displays in clothing providing users with feedback.

Wearable devices such as healthcare monitors and activity trackers are becoming more commonplace however; they are separate devices that users must remember to wear. The researchers say that integrating these devices into our clothing will make wearable devices less obtrusive and more comfortable, encouraging people to use them more regularly and increase the quality of data collected.

"Wearable devices allow people to monitor their fitness and health so they can live full and active lives for longer," said Edsger Smits, senior research scientist at Holst Centre. "But to maximise the benefits wearables can offer, they need to be able to provide feedback on what users are doing as well as measuring it.

"By combining imec's patented stretch technology with our expertise in active-matrix backplanes and integrating electronics into fabrics, we've taken a giant step towards that possibility."

The display is thin and mechanically stretchable. Small LEDs are mounted on an amorphous indium-gallium-zinc oxide TFT backplane that employs a two-transistor and one capacitor pixel engine to drive the LEDs. These second-generation displays are said to offer higher pitch and increased, average brightness. Work is ongoing to further industrialise this technology.