Design Innovation

Design innovation enabling autonomy and independence through smart clothes and wearable technology

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Smart clothing of the future will be able to monitor an individual's vital signs; determine body movement, posture and geographical location; regulate temperature; offer impact protection from falls and communicate this information to care providers.

This network received NDA funding and became the Design For Ageing project


Jane McCann, University of Wales, Newport

Contact details

Jane McCann


Serious question are currently being raised as to how society will care for older generations. It now seems likely that older people will be encouraged to live independently, relying upon new technological innovations to support their autonomy.


Clothing for older people can benefit from the 'new revolution' in textile and clothing manufacture and the embedding of micro-electronics. The current markets for clothing and electronics are separate and with quite different cultures and terminology. Medical devices are developed with little aesthetic appeal for 'ill people'. Technological advances are not readily accepted by older people due to badly designed interfaces, which often have small controls or displays that are difficult to read.

Emerging electronic and textile related technologies are confusing to traditional clothing and textile development teams, while electronics and medical experts are not normally conversant with textile and clothing technology. Appropriate technologies need to be selected and merged from the choice of fibre and fabric assemblies through to near market prototypes.

Policy implications

The aim of the network is to define a methodology for the application of emerging smart clothes and wearable technologies, which enable older people to enjoy better quality lives. The network fosters new multidisciplinary partnerships, embracing expertise from: independent experts, university research groups, textile and garment developers, wearable computing, telecommunications, product design, interaction design, policy makers, health care professionals and user groups. The network is committed to facilitating end-user involvement and encouraging older users of health and social care services to work directly within the network. We also gain views, opinions and expertise from wider 'older people' advisory groups.

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(current tags: Mobility and Independence, Technology, Arts and Humanities)
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