Optical fibres and LEDs are already well established in the fields of optoelectronics and telecommunications, but few people realize that the technology is now being applied in the textile industry to striking effect. Scientists have now learned how to 'knit' optical fibres and integrate them with textiles as well as manufacture flexible LED arrays and light-emitting fabrics.

Integrating electronics into clothing is a major new concept, which opens up a whole array of multi-functional, wearable electro-textiles for sensing/monitoring body functions, delivering communication facilities, data transfer, individual environment control, and many other applications.

The issues facing a fashion designer working with wearable are explored.


Wearable electronics and photonics covers many aspects of the cutting-edge research and development into this exciting field and provides a window through which only a small portion of the exciting emerging technology can be seen. With contributions from a panel of international experts in the field, this is an essential guide for all electrical, textile and biomedical engineers as well as academics and fashion designers. Stay one step ahead of the industry on this hot topic evaluates the major new concept of integrating electronics into clothing. Explores future trends for fashion and specialist clothing.

Smart textiles such as those based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are a new step in the evolution of wearable photonics and represent the drive to integrate new functionalities into hitherto inaccessible surfaces for large-area sensing and illumination, despite some obvious integration challenges.

Engineers tend to evaluate OLEDs by the functionality of individual devices. Basic OLED technology research is driven by the goal of optimizing device performance, the fabrication process, device architecture, materials choices, and encapsulation. However, product designers experience OLEDs in a different way by thinking of them in terms of the "lighting experience" and "design aesthetics" when integrated into a larger system. Philips Research argues that it is necessary to rethink the way in which we carry out OLED research by including design-centered thinking.

Textile OLEDs—Displays of the future

Photonic textiles represent a promising industry in which OLEDs could bring essential improvements in performance that may lead to groundbreaking new applications and products. The vision of replacing everyday textiles in curtains, furniture, and clothing with light-emitting fabrics will bring inert objects to life by integrating intelligence and visual feedback within the everyday objects that surround us.

The integration of OLEDs to create photonic textiles is an emerging trend by which researchers hope to combine the unique properties of textiles (breathability, comfort, low cost) with the beneficial properties of OLEDs (diffuse illumination, low energy consumption).

The advantage of OLEDs, in comparison to the LEDs that are often used in textiles, is the emission of homogenous light over a larger surface area. In addition, feedback from designers shows that photonic systems enabled by OLEDs are aesthetically more pleasing than LED-based enhanced textiles that must be covered by additional textile optical diffuser layers. Compared to other fiber-based photonic systems such as textiles fabricated from photoluminescent, thermochromic, or optical fibers, OLEDs have higher light intensities. And finally, OLEDs are also lightweight, have a flat form factor, and can be flexible if fabricated on a polymer foil substrate.


Designers have already started using available OLED devices by integrating them into demonstrator garments. Early adoption of OLEDs in couture garments, such as the figure-hugging catsuit. These garments show that it is possible to design a comfortable OLED-based garment with exciting new lighting aesthetics.

Vision of PHOTONICS in Textiles

With the same principle in the analysis of the object color, we apply our proprietary algorithm and key idea to analyze the color level of the solution. Mobile device-based colorimeter for estimating the chlorine concentration in water. This mobile app is designed to work in conjunction with widely used chemical indicators such as potassium iodine solution and o-tolidine. Its current performance shows high potential in determining chlorine concentrations in 0-2.0 ppm.

Our vision is to attach rigid or flexible OLED tiles onto flexible or stretchable textile substrate demonstrators. Individual OLEDs will be connected using stretchable interconnects or conductive yarns to power individual lighting elements. Clothing designers desire a much more subtle integration of lighting elements into textiles. Need to develop photonic textiles that are more like fabric in order to minimize the impact of the integrated lighting element on overall comfort and increase the aesthetics of the final design.

Consider the possibility of developing OLED fibers that have textile characteristics. Integration of such OLED lighting elements would be subtle and could occur during the textile manufacturing process, eliminating the need to add the illuminating devices. These OLED fabrics would provide more design freedom and could be tailored to a variety of needs.

Another unique property of OLED fibers would be the ability to emit light along their whole surface area, and not just in one dimension like conventional planar, flat devices. Photonic textiles fabricated from OLED fibers would be three-dimensional, introducing a new modality for designers to play with. But is it possible to fabricate OLED fibers? The answer is yes. Researchers have investigated the possibility of developing textile-compatible OLED fibers by fabricating OLED materials onto various types of yarns and fibers.

The aim of this project is to build a Platform for Large Area Conformable Electronics for Integration—is to develop highly conformable, large-area textile-based circuits with integrated OLED components. Commercial availability of OLED fibers that could be used to weave large-area OLED textiles would clearly unlock a wide range of new applications. In the short term, the concept of integrating more rigid OLEDs into conformable textiles remains the most promising route for future wearable photonic textile products.