Intelligent lighting textiles on the way for clothes and curtains

Ohmatex develops intelligent textiles. Together with 11 other partners, Ohmatex has signed a contract with the European Commission to co-develop new systems and electronics that can be distributed across large surfaces on foils or fabrics in the PLACE-it research project. Dutch giant Philips is coordinating the project.

Large prestigious project
With a total budget of 16.2 million Euro PLACE-it is amongst the larger ICT projects awarded under the EU’s 7th Framework programme. Ohmatex is a small knowledge-based company with a staff of five and an address in Denmark’s second city, Aarhus the company has earned its place in the project as one of the pioneers within development of intelligent textiles. According to director Christian Dalsgaard, cooperation with a network of companies and research institutes across Europe is an important ingredient for Ohmatex success.

– Ohmatex specialist knowledge has earned the company a place in the professional smart textiles field. Exchange of ideas, access to the most advanced knowledge and of course financing opportunities are essential for commercial innovation. That the company has won a place on the team in such a large prestigious EU project as PLACE-it is a feather in the cap of our small company, and director Christian Dalsgaard says, the project will yield results which Ohmatex can subsequently exploit commercially.

The project received €10.9 million funding from the EU; whereof €270.000 goes directly to the Danish company, which will develop the connectors for the new material.

Flexible electronics – About the PLACE-it project
PLACE-it will integrate electronics in everyday objects. The goal is for the technology to bend and stretch – not be square, stiff and fragile. The aim is to combine lighting and technical performance with elasticity, comfort and washability across large surfaces.
• PLACE-it is short for ”Platform for Large Area Conformable Electronics by InTegration”
• The project which starts now will run for the next three and a half years. EU funding amounts to €10.9 million.
• There are 12 partners in the project. Dutch electronics giant Philips is coordinating the project which has participants from Holland, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Denmark.

The aim of PLACE-it explains Christian Dalsgaard:
– Light is important for both health and mood; it is used in treatment of skin diseases and in sensors that measure blood oxygenation. Research and development of light sources that are flexible, bendable and as soft as textiles are therefore highly relevant.
The technology can be used to save energy in entirely new lighting designs and even curtains that imitate natural daylight.
Ultimately it can be integrated into children’s clothing so that kids can be seen in winter traffic.

Contact person:
Director Christian Dalsgaard, tel. +45 86205168, mobile +45 40966951, email: chd@ohmatex.dk

Visit the Place-it website: http://www.place-it-project.eu/

Innovative technology provides better conditions for fishermen at sea

Fishing is a dangerous profession, but new intelligent protective clothing can improve the conditions for those who work at sea.

Imagine a rough sea, a deck that is smooth as ice, changing temperatures and working gear that you can get caught on or struck by. The sea is a dangerous place to work and fishermen can easily find themselves in risky situations which place great demands on their protective clothing.

Clothes that make a difference
”A fisherman falls overboard into the sea. He isn’t wearing a lifejacket because it’s heavy and too warm when he’s working on deck. What can be done to improve his situation?” Director Christian Dalsgaard from Ohmatex outlines the scenario to explain the aims of the Safe@Sea project.

The solution is to improve the protection offered by the fisherman’s clothing. If the clothes can be manufactured from buoyant materials it could make a big difference to unlucky seamen who fall overboard and wait to be rescued. It would make it easier to stay afloat until help arrives, just as built in sensors can aid faster localisation in the water.

“But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic”, says Christian Dalsgaard and explains that “fishermen will also benefit from the improved protective clothing in everyday working situations because of the work done to make garments puncture and tear resistant, lightweight and comfortable and of course still water and dirt repellent”.

If a fisherman fumbles with a fishing hook or other equipment, the clothing won’t be damaged and more importantly – he won’t be hurt.

Technology? It’s something you wear!
Ohmatex is a small company with a staff of seven who develop intelligent textiles in Aarhus, Denmark. Conductive yarns, ribbons and elastics are sewn into clothing to enable implementation of various functions that benefit users. Ohmatex encapsulates the electronics in the textile so to speak and are one of the pioneers in this field.

Smart textiles are a relatively new business area offering great opportunities for a small company to make its mark. Innovation and development are not exclusively for larger companies but thrive in a small company like Ohmatex.

“In time of course, we intend to expand,” says Christian Dalsgaard. “There should be good opportunities for this because the market for intelligent textiles is growing so rapidly.”

How does innovation arise?
Good ideas don’t arise of their own accord; they must be thought of, searched for, refined and pursued before they develop into practical products and useful knowledge. For such a small company as Ohmatex, a professional network is extremely important for innovation to flourish. The company visits other firms, takes part in network meetings and collaborates with research groups throughout Europe.

The Safe@Sea project, for example, was launched after a meeting focussing on smart textiles at DTU. The team behind the new fisherman’s clothing consists of companies of different sizes with Helly Hansen and SINTEF amongst the larger partners. SINTEF is a privately owned Norwegian research organisation and coordinator for the project.

“When Ohmatex develop their part of the Safe@Sea project, it is extremely important to think in end-user needs and the environment that materials will have to function in” says Christian Dalsgaard. As an example, he describes how the protective clothing must be able to withstand both salt water and laundering in a washing machine. Without damaging the integrated electronics of course.

Fire-fighters suits and a lighted sofa
Safe@Sea is just one of a number of innovative projects that Ohmatex is involved in. The company has already developed a fire-fighters suit with integrated temperature sensors and the next big project will hopefully be to create lighting textiles in collaboration with electronics giant Philips.

“Imagine a lighted sofa, or maybe a T-shirt” suggests Christian Dalsgaard. “Light is important for both health and mood.” In other words, there will be many more serious uses for luminous fabrics.

Contact person:
Director Christian Dalsgaard, tel. +45 86205168, mobile +45 40966951, email: chd@ohmatex.dk

Visit the Safe@Sea website.