NW Tech Transformers Banner

Posted on December 20, 2016 by staff

Will SmartLife become beating heart of textile revolution?

The CEO of SmartLife has said the clothing tech firm aims to become “the beating heart of the next textile revolution”.

Martin Ashby believes that his firm could crack the promising but frustrating smart clothing market.

Its team of scientists and engineers have developed textile sensors in sportswear that read biometric signals.

“There are a number of companies who have launched products that sell – but they’re less comfortable and discreet than ours!” he told a BusinessCloud roundtable.

“The electronics are huge and weigh a lot. We didn’t want people to feel out of sorts when they were wearing our tech.

“We have a bit of silver that can go into a thread. It’s a conductor: wherever it touches the body and an electrical impulse is made, it picks it up.

“Our firmware filters out the bit of the signal that we don’t like – if we’re trying to pick up a heart rate, we don’t want the noise of the muscle in the way, or to pick up the breathing – and sends the useful bit to an app on your smartphone.”

SmartLife does not make the actual garments as to do so would prove prohibitively expensive. Rather, it holds the patent on the silver tech.

“R&D companies like ours burn money: you have no revenue stream and you’ve got to find a way to monetise it,” he continued.

“When I joined, the then directors wanted a global launch of a SmartLife clothing brand.

“I costed it and it was £14 million required for the first three months – they realised that wasn’t going to happen! We decided to license it out instead.

“The patents themselves cover the knitting techniques in the yarn.

“It sounds silly because the yarn is made on a machine that’s been around for 200 years!”

Smartlife recently attracted Australian investment to commercialise its technology.