Written by Jonny Williamson
At an event organised by the CDE (Centre for Defence Enterprise), Intelligent Textiles exhibited the uniforms featuring a single power source. The company has already patented a number of manufacturing processes for weaving complex conductive fabrics, meaning only one battery needs charging, rather than one for each piece of a soldier’s kit.
The ‘e-fabric’ has been integrated into the vest, the shirt, the helmet, the backpack, the gloves and even the weapon platform, removing the need for wires which can become entangled, snagged or frayed. Having to carry a separate battery for each piece of equipment adds weight to a soldier’s kit, hindering manoeuvrability and increasing cost.
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The system has a built-in redundancy factor so if the fabric becomes ripped, torn or damaged, power can be still be re-routed, unlike breakages with conventional cables.
The company are also working on a fabric keyboard to be used in conjunction with the intelligent system, and is currently working with BAE Systems to integrate other next-generation equipment into the uniform.
It is hoped that field trials will be carried out in May, with the new systems potentially seeing limited use by the end of the year. However, at this stage it is unlikely that there will be a more widespread adoption until at least 2014 at the earliest.