Southampton Chair in Emerging Technologies targets invisible and ubiquitous wearable technologies | Electronics and Computer Science

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Published: 2 October 2020

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Professor Steve Beeby is one of the world’s foremost experts on electronic textiles and energy harvesting

Professor Steve Beeby from the University of Southampton has been awarded a prestigious Chair in Emerging Technologies to pioneer reliable e-textile systems that are invisible to the wearer.

The Electronics and Computer Science professor is one of just eight UK-based researchers to share £22 million of funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The research will exploit printed active materials, flexible circuit technologies and textile engineering to integrate sensing, electronic and energy harvesting/storage functionality within a single textile.

Professor Beeby, Head of the Smart Electronic Materials and Systems (SEMS) group, says: “We all come into contact with textiles every day of our lives – in our clothes, inside our homes and in our cars – which makes fabrics an ideal platform technology that can, for example, monitor our health and support healthy ageing, make us safer and more visible at night and improve our technique when taking part in sports activities.

“However, the properties of a textile and their method of manufacture mean they are very challenging when we try to incorporate electronic and sensing functionality. Also, there is currently no alternative to using conventional batteries to power e-textiles and these are incompatible with the nature of a fabric. We are working to overcome these many challenges to deliver robust and effective e-textiles systems that we will all use on a daily basis in the not-too-distant future.”

Professor Beeby follows in the footsteps of Southampton colleagues Professor Susan Gourvenec and Professor Themis Prodromakis, who were both awarded Chairs in Emerging Technologies in 2019.

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