Infineon wearable and washable chips

The chipmaker Infineon has introduced a new technology intended for incorporating electronic devices into ordinary fabrics. This would enable anything from identification tags to MP3 players to be built into clothing. The technology includes microprocessors, connectors and sensors wrapped in copper wires in silver and then encased in polyester. This means that the fabric can be washed or dry cleaned as required and the manufacturers even say they have ironed it successfully.

This is causing quite a stir among textile manufacturers of which over 200 have expressed an interest. As a result, Infineon believe wearable products could be available in a year and be mass produced in two years.

Early applications are likely to be identification devices (RF ID chips) that can store up to 4000 bytes, would cost 30 to 50 euro cents and be used by clothing manufacturers to identify legitimate mechandise. More complex applications include a 3cm square MP3 player controlled by a 5mm square chip woven into a jacket. The system uses a small battery and a multimedia card which are the only aspects visible to the user as all controls are activated by speech recognition. According to Infineon this is likely to cost around 10 euros to manufacture and could be available in three to four years.

The technology is flexible enough to enable any of the Infineon range of chips to be incorporated into clothing - including GPS, Bluetooth, GSM or 3G phones and keyless entry systems.

According to a company representative, one possible application for the identification tags could be to integrate the ID chips into the fabric of a jacket, and transmit your personal information to the people next to you in a disco, and it could say whether this person would be a good fit for you.