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Tiasha Renganathan
Tiasha Renganathan
Head - Wearable Technology

Interview with Tiasha Renganathan

Slow adoption, lack of formal standards challenges in smart textiles

Twinery-Innovations by MAS is the innovation arm of Sri Lankan company MAS Holdings, one of the largest apparel manufacturers in South Asia. Twinery develops apparel and soft goods innovations that transform the human-textile interface. Head of wearable technology Tiasha Renganathan deliberates about the future and the challenges of working with smart textiles.

TT: What is the size of the global smart textiles market? What is the expected growth rate by 2025?

While market size estimates vary, the global smart textile industry was estimated to be $544.7 million in 2015 that created the 4th industrial revolution for the textiles and fashion industry, projected to be worth over $100 billion by 2025. Whether this industry delivers on these projections will be driven by ecosystem investment, the ability to commercially scale solutions and solving core consumer challenges with user experience being the key.

TT: Where are the applications of smart textiles growing?

Applications span sports and fitness, health and medical, employee health and industrial, military and defence and infotainment. Where human life interacts with the internal and external environment, there begets a need for 'smart' as we continue to aspire to lead healthy active lifestyles that are safe, convenient and interactive.

TT: Which are the major markets for smart textiles?

We believe sports and fitness; health and medical; and industrial are the major markets for smart textiles.

TT: Which markets are vital for Twinery's phoenix, firefly, dry vantage, promptly, impact protection and silsoft?

Twinery initially focused on the sports and fitness segment owing to our strong business-to-business partnerships in the space as well as our depth of technology capability within the performance apparel domain. We have recently been recognised at CES, a consumer technology show, for our joint product launch of the Phoenix Active Heating platform through the launch of a base layer product that promises intelligent thermal regulation. Such launches that bring together brands like Odlo and technology partners like MAS and Clim8 are testaments to the promise that this segment holds. Platforms like firefly for active illumination, dry vantage for water repellency and promptly for agile full garment printing represent a strategy underpinned by evolving the function that clothing provides in a commercially scalable manner focused on driving mass adoption.

2018 has also seen us entering other adjacent markets that are capability driven. 

TT: What are the latest innovations dominating smart textiles?

Advances in fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, organic electronics (also known as plastic electronics) and conducting polymers are creating a range of textile-based technologies with the ability to sense and react to the world around them.

Energy harvesting has been particularly thematic in recent years with many technology providers investing in the space although this is still at a relatively low technology readiness level for solutions that are meaningful in the consumer world. 

TT: Which ones are Twinery focusing on?

We are focused on the broader challenges of miniaturisation as well as cost optimisation of manufacturing to facilitate a third wave of wearables that is competitive when compared to conventional apparel. From a technology platform perspective, a renewed focus on bio-mechanics is also on the horizon.

TT: What will the smart textiles of 2025 be like?

The industry is evolving so rapidly that making predictions for 2025 is likely to be a defeating endeavour. Technology lifecycles are rapidly decreasing as investment in technology research and innovation surge to unprecedented levels. Our approach has been to be local in key geographies such as Silicon Valley, continue to invest in expanding our innovation ecosystem and create a culture of open innovation and co-create with consumers to stay ahead of the curve so we are at the front end of what is an industry at its infancy.

TT: What are the challenges in working with smart textiles?

Slow adoption and the requirement of education and awareness as well as the lack of formal standards has at times proved challenging. However, we are working at MAS with key standard bodies to help develop these standards as one of the largest manufacturers of smart apparel in the world.

TT: What are the future plans at Twinery? What new products or breakthrough technologies do you plan to launch soon?

We challenge ourselves to bring to market products that are a first to the space and so without giving too much away, do know that our future plans will revolutionise the way we train-take on the elements - recover and reduce injuries from sporting pursuits. (HO)

Published on: 22/11/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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