Do you find knitting oldschool? Something only grandmas and hipsters do? Well, laugh all you want. Truth is, knitting could be the key to groundbreaking innovations in technology.
In a study published in American Association for the Advancement of Science
, experts used the process of knitting to create a new kind of smart fabric that can control movement.
Material could be used for wearable prosthetics, “exoskeletons” (c) Youtube
They call the tech, textile actuator or textuator. It is a "yarn" made of cellulose, which experts coated with a special polymer called polypyrrole that shifts and stretches in response to electricity.
Researchers found that this yarn is extremely tough that can withstand great forces. Using a knitting technique, the woven smart yarn can also be stretched.
Where we'd need textuators
Researchers tested the material by knitting it into a form of sleeve which they placed on a small Lego lever “arm.” The textuator, made the arm move easily and smoothly, and even lifted 2 grams of weight.
According to experts, this discovery may help people who have complications in muscles, such as those who are struggling to walk or move. The yarn can be woven and made into a exoskeleton body suit to ease motion.
Researchers foresee that this technology can be used in creating clothing items like tights, socks, and sleeves that would let people move easily with minimal effort.
"By cleverly exploiting the various weaving and knitting architectures, we can optimize the performance of the textuator toward a specific application. That is, we can design the fabric to give a large force, for example, by using a plain weave, or a very large strain, by using an extremely stretchable knitting pattern, or anything in between," based on the study.