Technology giant Apple has been awarded a patent for the development of smart fabrics to use in future wearable devices and accessories. Issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the newly-granted patent regards the use of ‘fusible insulating strands’ in bags, clothing and other products.
It relates to the use of intertwined strands of conductive material to carry signals between circuitry between the different parts of an item. Conductive strands need to be able to carry electrical signals but also be compatible with the non-conductive strands in a fabric to offer strength and flexibility.
In its patent description, Apple says its invention could be used in a multitude of devices including laptops, monitors, tablets, smartphones, media players, smartwatches, smart pendants, headphones, smart glasses and other head-worn devices, as well as other wearable or miniature devices for gaming or navigation.
It could also be used in removable covers or wearable straps for devices, as well as to introduce connectivity to other products from jewellery to wallets, and from furniture to clothing. The smart fabrics for such devices could also include switches, buttons, light-emitting diodes, microphones and speakers, vibrators, motors, and sensors to detect light, pressure, proximity, moisture and temperature, as well as gyroscopes and compasses, the patent says. To mechanically and electrically insulate and isolate conductive strands, insulating material may be used surround the conductive core of the conductive strands.