Army Explores Wired Textiles

Army Explores Wired TextilesThe U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center Individual Protection Directorate, Natick, Mass., and the Objective Force Warrior Technology Program Office, Communications and Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J., are developing techniques to produce textiles containing fiber optics and electric wires for use in lightweight, non-bulky, high-tech battlefield gear. Research partners include military, academic and private organizations. Projects include: integrating invisible antennae into fabric vests; developing a connector system for use in a fabric-based bus or conventional cables; exploring alternative components for flat body conformal connectors and cables; and developing a soft switch fabric for use in a fiber keyboard as part of the Land Warrior soldier control unit. Photonics Laboratories Inc. and Philadelphia Universitys School of Textiles and Materials Technology, both in Philadelphia, are developing techniques to weave or knit wires and optical fibers directly into fabric. Clemson Universitys Clemson Apparel Research, Pendleton, S.C., is using stitchless seam technologies to entrap fiber optics and conductors, and provide electronic networks within and between battlefield apparel components.August 2002