The impact of IoT (Internet of Things) on the textile industry

Designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers at all levels can benefit from the new wave of innovation in the textile industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Textiles (IoTex) are coming together to create “smart” clothing – textiles imbued with technology that can monitor, analyze and react to their environment. This revolution is happening around the world, with potential applications in various places – from the haute couture catwalks of Paris to sports fields in California and even in the homes of everyday consumers. In our current age of rapid technological advancement and increasing digital connectivity, the fusion of IoT and IoTex is poised to reshape the fashion industry and the way we relate to our clothes. With the ability to monitor health data, improve physical performance, and even weather adjustments, these smart clothes are set to transform our relationship with clothing, offering new levels of functionality, customization, and interaction. In this article, we will explore the exciting intersection of IoT and IoTex, discussing the potential applications, implications, and challenges ahead.

Monitoring health and personal fitness

One of the most promising applications of IoT and IoTex in the fashion industry is the development of smart clothing to monitor health and personal fitness. Embedding sensors in clothing enables the monitoring of vital signs and physical activity in real-time. These smart clothes can monitor heart rate, breathing patterns, body temperature, and even the composition of sweat [1]. It can provide valuable insights for personal health management and help individuals optimize their exercise routines. Leading sports brands like Under Armor have adopted IoT technology in their products. For example, the Under Armor Gemini 3 RE smart sneakers can track and store data such as pace, cadence, and distance. That data is then synced to a mobile app, providing detailed insights to runners.

Personalized user experience

The integration of IoT into textiles enables personalization and interactivity, enhancing the wearer’s experience. For example, clothing can change color based on environmental factors or the wearer’s mood, creating a highly personalized user experience [2]. Additionally, touch-sensitive textiles can allow users to interact with their clothing, creating new ways to interact with devices and even control smart home applications [3]. Fashion tech start-up TheUnseen develops innovative materials that can be used in a wide range of industries. A key characteristic of this material is its ability to change color in response to various environmental variables, including temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. One of the significant applications of this material lies in its reaction to the quality of the water it comes into contact with, changing color depending on the level of water pollution, which provides a visual representation and instant feedback on the state of the water environment. Another startup, Emel+Aris, has developed a smart coat that warms up when it senses cold temperatures, showing the potential for interactive and customizable clothing.


IoT can also contribute to sustainability in the fashion industry. For example, IoT technology can facilitate better resource management and waste reduction in manufacturing processes [4]. In addition, smart textiles integrated with energy harvesting technologies, such as solar cells or thermo-electric generators, can store and provide energy, reducing the need for conventional energy sources [5]. For example, Lenzing’s TENCEL™ fibers are made from renewable wood sources and are produced in an environmentally responsible process. Similarly, Circular Systems uses technology to convert food industry waste and waste textiles into new, sustainable fibers for clothing. In conclusion, IoT and IoTex have significant potential to revolutionize the fashion industry, from improving personal health and fitness, and enriching the user experience, to promoting sustainability. As these technologies continue to evolve, we can expect to see more innovative applications emerging at this intersection.


[1] Curone, D., Secco, EL, Tognetti, A., Loriga, G., Dudnik, G., Risatti, M., Whyte, R., Bonfiglio, A., Magenes, G., 2009. Smart garments for emergency operators: the ProeTEX project. IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine 13, 3, 274–281.

[2] Park, S., Jayaraman, S., 2007. E-textiles: fabric of the future, 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics

[3] Paradiso, R., Porchet, J.-A., 2014. Textile platforms for e-textile solutions, 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)

[4] Park, S., Jayaraman, S., 2019. Enhancing the quality of life through wearable technology: The case for e-textile solutions, 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) [5] Ghosh, SK, Zangrando, F., Cavallari, MR, Bo, C., Benussi, L., Bianco, S., 2014. Smart textiles: Opportunities for novel industrial applications and challenges to overcome, 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics (ISIE)

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