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Innovation Inspiration

Inspiring stories of innovation from around the world, in many different sectors. Looking further afield might just provide a lightbulb moment for your organisation, or perhaps just a little motivation.

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  • 21-Nov-2018 10:05 AM | Kimberley White

    SKIINCore, a self-heating and wire-free wearable base layer for cold weather, launched yesterday on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise support for the next generation of wearable textile technology.

    SKIINCore is knitted from a conductive yarn that is designed to hold 18 watts of heating power and last for up to eight hours. The ultra-thin wearable is designed to deliver heat to the areas you need it most. It is programmed with machine-learning to adapt to your optimal body heat based on your movement and the outside temperature. It can be worn for any occasion or activity, such as everyday wear or winter sports.

    “We wanted to take the wires out of wearable technology and, living in Canada, we know what it's like to deal with harsh cold weather. While developing a textile computing platform, the team discovered a way to transfer heat through the fibres of everyday fabrics,” said Hin Fan, SKIINCore’s Product Manager. “The result is SKIINCore, a wire-free heated base layer that learns your optimal temperature the more you wear it.”

    SKIINCore features include a 100% wire-free soft technology – with knitted tech designed with the heating elements right in between the sweat-wicking synthetic inner layer and the heat-trapping wool outer layer.

    Intelligent heat adapts to the wearer. When the temperature drops the base layer will automatically switch on and turn off if it senses the body is about to get too warm. It senses when the user is moving and learns to adapt to the user’s lifestyle the more it is worn

    SKIINCore also has targeted heating, insulation and ventilation zones: Providing heat only to the areas on the body that are most sensitive to cold – the body’s core, hands, thighs, and feet – and avoiding those areas that tend to get sweaty like the chest and back.

    The product features articulating joints: Ribbed on the outside and smooth on the inside, the design ensures the user stays comfortable with material that stays in place and never bunches. There are also charging port: The battery has a USB-C outlet so the wearer can charge their phone when they are on the go, even while its powering the base layer. The product is also 100% machine washable.

    The SKIINCore base layers are a perfect alternative to the heated jacket because there are times when wire-filled clothing isn’t suitable – when you’re at the office or want to look your best on a night out, the company says. SKIINCore’s two smart base layers – a top and a pair of leggings – learn from your behaviour and provide heat to your optimal temperature.

    The SKIINCore Team spent three years developing and designing SKIINCore. The SKIIN prototype received the Best New Wearable Technology Device award from IDTechEx and the Product Innovation Award from the Canadian Printable Electronics Symposium.

    SKIIN, the direct-to-consumer platform of smart clothing products, has been developed by Myant, based in Toronto, Canada, which claims to be the world's only vertically integrated textile computing company. It specialises in the design, development and production of wearable and connected textile products, and carries out extensive research and development (R&D), prototyping, testing, and full production of textile computing components and finished products.

    Myant’s end-to-end textiles supply chain includes a state-of-the-art robotic knitting division, a printed electronic lab, a traditional cut and sew operation, a multidisciplinary team, and significant proprietary technologies.

    As a result of its efforts, the company boasts a number of proprietary technologies – including textile-based biometric sensors, flexible electroluminescent materials, heating technologies, and neuro-orthotic technologies – which can be used in several applications.

    Original article here


  • 12-Apr-2018 9:46 AM | Kimberley White

    Would you pay a premium for a shirt that was made partly with old plastic bottles salvaged from the ocean? Clothing company Gant is betting yes, and introducing a new lineup of men’s and women’s technical shirts that will incorporate PET waste recovered from the seas and upcycled into fabrics.

    The new shirts, part of its technical line of wickable and breathable shirts called Tech Prep, will include 10% upcycled plastics. They’ll be available for women and for men, at prices ranging from, roughly, $170 to $195, a premium to the price of its regular technical shirts. “I don’t care if it is 100% upcycled plastics in the shirt or 50%, I want it to be something people want to buy,” says Brian Grevy, Gant’s chief marketing officer.

    In incorporating ocean waste into its product, Gant joins other companies, notably Adidas, which last year introduced running shoes made of upcycled plastics in conjunction with Parley for the Oceans. Adidas (where Grevy and Gant CEO Patrik Nilsson previously worked) has reportedly sold 1 million pairs of the shoes since its launch.

    Gant, which is based in Stockholm and owned by the Swiss retail group Maus Freres, worked with Seaqual, a Madrid-based organization, that creates 100% recycled polyester filament by recycling rubbish made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, that fishermen on 165 boats pull from the sea. Seaqual, founded two years ago, is itself an alliance of the Ecoalf Foundation, textile group Santanderina and spinning mill Antex. Seaqual makes a polyester filament from the recovered plastic waste, which is then woven into the yarn to create the material for the shirt. As consumers increasingly buy clothes made of technical fabrics, which are made of petroleum-based textiles, and plastic waste has proliferated, such recycling and upcycling efforts have gained in importance.

    Gant is Seaqual’s first external customer in its effort. “They are really looking to scale up this year, and they are offering their services to other brands. I welcome that. That is the only way we can clean up the seas,” Grevy says. The amount of plastics in the oceans is mindboggling, after all: Every year, 8 million tons of garbage end up in the oceans with an estimated 75% of it winding up down in the depths.

    The concept took more than a year to go from idea to launch as Gant struggled with how to incorporate plastic into a shirt without making it feel like, well, plastic. “None of us wants to buy a shirt that feels like plastic,” Grevy says. So Gant’s designers fiddled with the formulations and the production till they got it right. “We had fibers that became too plastic. It was way too expensive at first,” he says. “We had a lot of rounds, and a lot of postponing the launch, and a lot of ‘no, not good enough,’ to get here.”

    The shirts aren’t entirely sustainable. There are chemicals that go into the collar, for example, and the buttons are generally created by farming pearls. “What we are interested in now is how to take chemicals out of the neck, and what we can do with sustainable buttons,” he says. “You can have an extreme point of view, and then you do nothing. If all us want to make the world more clean it has to become scalable, otherwise it will not fly because if customers are not buying it then why will you create it?”

    Grevy says that Gant intends to build off the shirt launch with a larger sustainability effort later this year. It is still working on a road map for that.

    Word by Amy Feldman - original article here.

  • 11-Apr-2018 3:56 PM | Kimberley White

    W. L. Gore & Associates has announced a collaboration with a digital health start-up Bonbouton to explore material solutions in advanced sensor technology and enable practical smart fabrics for assistive apparel and digital health applications.

    Bonbouton is a New York City-based team of innovators in inkjet-printed, low-cost graphene temperature sensors. With technology licensed from the Stevens Institute of Technology, Bonbouton has emerged as an industry leader in microsensor technology, developing mechanically flexible and molecularly thin sensors for monitoring skin temperature with graphene oxide (GO).

    Temperature sensing materials

    The initial phase of the Gore-Bonbouton agreement will focus on collaborative research in the area of temperature sensing materials. This explorative process will lay a foundation for future applications of sensor technology and conductive inks in digital health, chronic care management and smart fabrics.

    “Bonbouton is an ideal partner. Its technology shows enormous potential for expanding Gore materials into digital health applications and other markets,” said Paul Campbell, co-leader, Gore Innovation Center. “Bonbouton is widely and well regarded for its potential in graphene as a sensing modality. We look forward to collaborating with them both from a research and business standpoint.”

    “Our work with Gore, and specifically the Innovation Center, is an exciting development. Its materials and expertise are what will allow us to improve on existing technology and take development to the next level,” commented Linh Le, CEO and founder, Bonbouton. “Gore is known for a science-backed approach to comfort and wearability. Coupled with its collaborative resources and exploratory mindset, this makes Gore a model partner.”

    Fostering innovation

    According to Gore, this joint development agreement is evidence of the company’s continuing mission to foster innovation by providing insight and support for start-ups in the digital health arena. Gore aims to help these organisations facing challenges in advanced materials development by offering expertise, co-working space and access to versatile materials. The Gore Innovation Center offers a prototyping facility where start-ups, researchers, customers and corporations can collaborate and innovate.

    “We are thrilled to be working with Bonbouton to explore our combined potential, especially in applications where it can enhance quality of life for those with chronic conditions,” said Linda Elkins, co-leader, Gore Innovation Center.

    “Gore has a long-standing tradition of pushing boundaries in the material science space, and we aim to lend that expertise to organizations like Bonbouton, whose mission is to improve lives through smart fabrics and advanced sensor technology.”

    Article here.

  • 15-Feb-2018 4:17 PM | Kimberley White

    Dyne has been announced the inaugural winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize Innovation Award, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

    The Innovation Award powered by Future Tech Lab celebrates the collection with the most innovative and creative wool fabrication, process or development and was awarded to the finalist who demonstrated the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. Dyne will receive US$ 100,000 along with commercial opportunities.

    Read more here.

  • 15-Feb-2018 9:03 AM | Kimberley White

    Litrax, a leading Swiss textile technology brand and a producer of functional polymer chips, yarn and textile technologies, showcased its latest technology innovations that the company believes could change the future of functional garments, at ISPO Beijing last month.

    The company showed L2 Thermo, a fibre integrated warming technology that allows instant warming and insulation of +13°C infrared heat within 10 minutes, produced by the human body itself and accumulated by L2. The technology received Top 5 and Top 10 innovations awards at earlier ISPO shows, through fabric suppliers LMA and Sampaio Portugal, and is currently used by several brands in body wear, insulation and winter and ski wear.

    Read full article here.

  • 04-Jan-2018 11:39 AM | Kimberley White

    Stoll, Germany’s leading flat knitting machine manufacturer, and Myant Inc., a leading Canadian ‘textile computing’ company, have announced a strategic and exclusive collaboration that they say will “populate functional computing textile manufacturing in Canada and the US, with 500 state-of-the-art knitting machines from Stoll.”

    In a press release last night the companies announced that “advanced manufacturing will get a significant boost in Canada and the US when Stoll and Myant roll out 500 new 3D knitting machines to underpin the growth of functional computing textiles.”

    It is unclear at this stage what is meant exactly by “roll out 500 new 3D knitting machines.” Knitting Industry believes this to be a collaboration that could eventually lead to the purchase of 500 new Stoll flat knitting machines by a network of organisations, rather than an announcement that 500 machines have been purchased. However, we are seeking clarification on this now.

    “This collaboration will have a direct and powerful impact on the textile manufacturing industry worldwide as it raises the bar and sets a new gold standard for functional computing textiles,” the statement said.

    Shared vision

    According to the statement, Myant and Stoll share the vision of disrupting the textile industry with new advancements in Industry 4.0, material science and technical applications for high quality products made in North America.

    “Stoll’s machines combined with Myant’s end-to-end innovations, from molecule to garment, from textile to wardrobe will truly revolutionize the world of textiles and create a new economy. Stoll and Myant will use this exclusive collaboration for all inquiry of the research, development and engineering of this new domain of functional computing textiles,” read the statement.

    Andreas Schellhammer, Chief Executive Officer of Stoll, said in the statement: “Stoll and Myant are aligned in the vision to create a new gold standard for functional computing textiles. Stoll has a longstanding commitment to be a leader at the forefront of growth and innovation in the textile industry.”

    “Our collaboration with Myant represents a completely new approach to smart textiles. The demand for smart fabrics has never been higher as companies race to create garments, wearables, industrial, defence, healthcare and household items to connect humans to the Internet of Things. Myant is leading the creation of a new economy in functional computing textiles with Stoll machines. They have the vision and the right interdisciplinary team to make this a global revolution,” Mr Schellhammer added.

    Democratising manufacturing and resuscitating a making culture

    Tony Chahine, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Myant, said: “Myant and Stoll are taking a big step to democratize manufacturing and resuscitate a ‘making’ culture in Canada and the US.”

    “Our goal is to reduce the barriers to entry in textile innovation and production and promote collaboration between scientists, doctors, engineers, designers, students, and anyone with a creative idea. I believe that true innovation is only possible when the inventor can actually make the invention. The Stoll machines will have a massive impact on commercialization in the smart textile industry, which is in need of disruption, and will help to speed up the prototyping to production cycle,” Mr Chahine added.

    Original and full article here.

  • 14-Mar-2017 9:49 AM | Kimberley White

    A partnership between Levi’s and Google has yielded the Jacquard, a denim jacket with technology woven into the fabric.

    Once paired to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the jacket allows the wearer to control key functions with just a brush or tap of the cuff. A double tap with two fingers, for example, starts or stops music.

    Read more here.

  • 15-Dec-2016 4:18 PM | Kimberley White

    When Alexander Fleming, a brilliant but sometimes careless scientist, returned to his lab after a summer holiday in 1928, he found his work ruined. A bacteria culture he had been growing was contaminated by fungus and, as it grew, it killed all the colonies it touched.

    Most people would have simply started over, but Fleming switched his focus from the bacteria to the fungus itself. First, identified the mold and the bacteria-killing substance, which he called “penicillin,” then he tested it on other bacteria cultures. Seemingly in a single stroke, Fleming had created the new field of antibiotics.

    That’s how most people see innovation. A flash of brilliance and Eureka!, a new world is born. The truth is far messier. In fact, it wasn’t until 1943—nearly two decades later—that penicillin came into widespread use and only then because it was accelerated by the war effort. We need to discard old myths and deal with innovation as it really happens.

    Read original article here.

  • 12-Dec-2016 4:17 PM | Kimberley White

    Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi spins through a dizzying array of inspirations — from '50s pinups to a fleeting glimpse of a woman on the street who makes him shout "Stop the cab!" Inside this rambling talk are real clues to living a happy, creative life.

    Listen to his TED Talk here.

  • 08-Aug-2016 4:10 PM | Kimberley White

    People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.

    Listen to his TED Talk here.

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