Sundaresan Jayaraman - Fusion of Fashion and Function: Textiles as a Platform

Session 26: Biosensors & the Environment Around Us

Fusion of Fashion and Function: Textiles as a Platform for a Flexible Electronics System
Thursday, June 22, 2017 
2:10 PM - 2:35 PM

To realize the concept of the “Internet of the Individual,” there is a critical need for a robust functional platform for the integration of sensors and electronics that does not impose any additional social, psychological or ergonomic burden on the human who is serving as the information node. What is therefore needed is an infrastructure or platform that will be unobtrusive, shape-conforming and pervasive, while harnessing the information from the individual through integrated electronics. Such a flexible hybrid electronics system is even more important in areas that significantly impact the quality of life of individuals.

We will present the concept of textiles as a meta-wearable, viz., a flexible information infrastructure, which can be customized to realize the desired functionality while maintaining its unique characteristics of comfort, wearability, flexibility, usability and fashion, among others. For instance, the textile yarns in the fabric can act as sensors and serve as data buses or communication pathways for other sensors and processors to provide the necessary bandwidth required for interactivity. The topology, or placement of these data buses – both conducting and optical fibers – can be engineered to suit the desired application, making it a versatile technology platform.

We will discuss the design and development of a textile-based flexible hybrid electronics system to address incontinence in which the integration of form (or fashion) and function is critical. Incontinence has been variously defined as “the inability of the body to control the evacuative functions.” Whether it be the fear of losing control over the bladder or the potential for embarrassment, incontinence affects the psyche of those individuals; on the other hand, the resulting discomfort due to wetting that could also lead to skin irritation, affects the physical well-being and quality of life of the individuals. We will conclude the presentation with an overview of the challenges and opportunities in designing and developing such flexible hybrid electronics systems.


Speaker's Biography

Dr. Sundaresan Jayaraman is Kolon Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering with a joint appointment in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology. A pioneer in bringing about convergence between textiles and computing, Professor Jayaraman’s research has led to the paradigm of “Fabric is the Computer.” He is also a leader in studying and defining the roles of engineering design, manufacturing and materials technologies in public policy for the nation. Professor Jayaraman’s research has led to the realization of the world's first Wearable Motherboard™, also known as the “Smart Shirt” ( This invention was featured in a Special Issue of LIFE Magazine entitled Medical Miracles for the New Millennium (Fall 1998) as One of the 21 Breakthroughs that Could Change Your Life in the 21st Century. The first Smart Shirt is currently housed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Professor Jayaraman is a recipient of the 1989 Presidential Young Investigator Award from NSF. He has served on eight Study Committees for the National Academies. He is a founding member of the IOM Standing Committee on Personal Protective Equipment in the Workplace (2005-2013) and the National Materials and Manufacturing Board of the National Academies (2011-2015). He is also a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Biomedical Wearable Systems (2004 –2008).


Sundaresan Jayaraman
Georgia Institute of Technology