Innovative technology has transformed conventionally passive textiles into an intuitive and interactive platform that enables immediate color illumination customization. Developed by researchers at the AiDLab (Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design), of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon/Hong Kong, the patented intelligent textile system is a contact-free gesture recognition illuminative textile that changes color through hand and body gestures.
The novel textile possesses 2 unique features: An offline system based on a self-built algorithm and a patented illuminative Polymeric Optical Fiber (POF) knitted textile. The former enables contactless engagement, and the latter serves as a fabric platform for different color illuminations. It seamlessly integrates technology with the soft tactility of knitted materials. The textile can be knitted in a wide variety of surface patterns, textures, and weight. It looks and feels like a typical textile which will not look obtrusive in everyday environments and can be applied for wearables and products. It can be produced using industrial flatbed knitting machines thus enabling the textiles to be produced on a mass scale.
The system is based on computer vision and deep learning that is facilitated by an integrated camera. It captures imagery of the hands to compute and decipher it through 21 key landmarks on the hands and provide response in the form of illumination according to the predefined gestures. The system is trained to detect and calculate distances between landmarks on the hands, it recognizes gestures with immediate feedback using colored illuminations, providing effortless and intuitive interactions. The off-line system also enables the intelligent textile to work anywhere without the need for large computational power hence reducing the bulk of components and enhancing portability.
Typical gesture recognition materials are often reliant on physical contact or the donning of the material. Usually, the illuminative textiles are woven materials that have fixed structures while the knitted textile possess stretch. The new system is customizable in terms of the programmed gestures and different surface design, textures, and weights can be created to accommodate to the application purpose.
The immediate adaptability of the intelligent textile enables it to effortlessly meet the fast-evolving needs of contemporary consumers lending to product longevity and sustainability. The ability to customize interaction and colors within multi-user contexts will reduce the need to purchase copious products to meet different needs. The knitting process enables the creation of shaped pieces to fit the product construction thus only using the yarn and POFs required, resulting in very little material wastage as compared to the conventional cut and sew process of woven textiles that lends to material wastage.
The intelligent textile system had been licensed to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council for installation at the Wong Tai Sin District Health Centre that serves over 400,000 residents in the area.