Skip to main content

Goodbye fitness bands: Soon, motion sensors will be woven right into our clothes

XelfleX
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Cambridge Consultants developed a new smart textile that could make the smart clothing we currently only dream of a reality. It’s called XelfleX (it’s pronounced ex-el-flex, apparently), and by using a special fiber optic thread to track movement, it turns the very fabric of our clothes into a motion sensor.

The thread is thin, light, and flexible, plus it’s water resistant and won’t be damaged by washing, which makes it suitable for clothing worn everyday. Woven into tight fitting garments, each fiber optic thread can hold up to ten sensors, which recognize flexing joints and other movements. It can also send signals to a small power pack, then on to a smartphone. From here, custom algorithms interpret and analyze the data.

While we tend to think only about fitness tracking when considering smart clothes, XelfleX technology goes way beyond knowing how many steps we take. For example, it could be used to monitor and then train us to make a perfect golf swing, or deliver a beautiful tennis backhand, because it knows exactly where we’re going wrong.

It doesn’t only have sporting uses either. The growing interest in VR environments means a convenient, lightweight, and precise system to interpret body movements could be suitable to control next-generation games. There is also a need in healthcare for a system to accurately measure body movement in people recovering from serious injuries.

Beyond this wide variety of uses, XelfleX’s real breakthrough could be in making smart clothing actually wearable. Style is paramount, and for smart clothing to be accepted by regular people, it needs to be almost identical to its less-than-clever counterpart. It shouldn’t cost four times the price either. Cambridge Consultants’ Martin Brock, who invented XelfleX, says the sensor will allow companies to make smart clothing that is “low cost, durable, useful, and attractive to wear.”

We’ll have the chance to see XelfleX, and give it a try, at CES 2015.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
Razer Anzu smart glasses deal knocks $140 off the price tag
The Razer Anzu smart glasses placed on top of an open book.

While smartwatch deals have slowly claimed their place in the mainstream, smart glasses haven't turned out to be as popular. Gaming-focused brand Razer, however, is trying to renew interest in smart glasses with the Razer Anzu, which you can currently purchase from Best Buy at $140 off. If you'd like to give them a try, they're available for just $60, less than half their original price of $200.

There have been failures like the Google Glass and Snap Spectacles, and hopeful attempts like Oppo's Air Glass and Apple's secretive project, but the Razer Anzu smart glasses take a different spin on the wearable device by designing them for indoors. While they come with polarized sunglass lenses, their clear lenses are more useful with their blue light filter, which protects your eyes from screen glare to prevent discomfort even after hours of playing video games or working from home. The smart glasses, which also have a built-in omnidirectional microphone and speakers, may also be more comfortable to wear for an extended period of time compared to headsets and headphones. You'll enjoy smooth, stutter-free sound with the Razer Anzu's low latency audio with a 60ms Bluetooth connection.

Read more
The best Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 screen protectors
Person holding skateboard while wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

A new, sleek design and digital bezel help the Galaxy Watch 4 stand out in the crowd and set it apart from the traditional style of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Whether you've picked up a 40mm model with a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED screen or opted for more screen real estate with the 44mm model, that stand-out design needs protecting from scratches and knocks. That means it's time for our picks of the best Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 screen protectors, with something to suit all budgets.

These screen protectors will all fit the 40mm or 44mm models of the Galaxy Watch 4. If you've got a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, these won't fit.
Spigen Glas.tR EZ Fit Screen Protector

Read more
How to remove watch links from the strap on your new watch
how to remove watch links fossil q explorist

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all smartwatch. If your wrists are on the smaller size, then you may find that your new smartwatch is dangling from your wrist and sliding up your forearm. No need to worry — it's a common problem. Chances are there are at least one too many chain links on the strap, but adjusting a metal-link smartwatch band isn't as difficult as you might think — and doesn't usually require a trip to the jewelers.

We'll take you through everything you need to know and the tools you'll need handy to remove links from your smartwatch so it fits snugly on your wrist.

Read more