WEAFING will develop innovative garments with integrated textile actuators, sensors, and electronics for haptic stimulation. We will advance the technology and manufacturability of electroactive fabrics resulting in lightweight and flexible textile actuators. Integration of the actuators in wearables takes into account different textile morphologies, soft mechatronics, producibility, and human perception. The garments developed will have a high level of wearability as the actuator is the garment itself and the technology is silent. These wearables are based on a new kind of textile muscles that are also enhanced within the project. In wearable technology, most R&D comprises sensors and only very little concerns wearable actuator technology. There is a limited set of actuators for wearables and 95% of the applications for haptic feedback are based on vibration motors. Textile muscles offer a completely novel and different quality of haptic sensation. Furthermore, being textiles they offer a new way of designing and fabricating wearable haptics and can be seamlessly integrated into garments. They are silent, use low driving voltages, lightweight, soft and pliable, in contrast to other solutions that most often are hard, bulky and noisy. For these novel form of textile muscles we foresee a huge range of possible applications in haptics: for ergonomics, wellness, gaming, inclusion, or social communication. Electromechanically active polymers form a basis for the textile muscles. When low voltage is applied to the coated yarns, they contract. Processing the yarns into textiles multiplies the effect of the contraction and/or delivered force, depending on the textile construction. In a co-design approach involving end-users we will develop demonstrator garments for haptic stimulation and investigate their properties in a multidisciplinary team with members from chemistry, physics, soft mechatronics, textile technology, human perception and cognition, and wearable design.
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