Estonian researcher dabbles in smart textiles for hospitals
Smart textiles pioneer Kärt Ojavee is leading a group of Estonian Academy of Arts students to come up with new ways of using interactive textiles to improve hospital environments.
“Imagine being stuck in a hospital, having to stare at the same ceiling day after day. Finally one starts to find interesting aspects in the cracks or how the lamp hangs from the ceiling,” Ojavee told the website Research in Estonia, adding that her students were told to focus on nature and observe how it changes slowly.
“One of the ideas they have is very simple – shadows of trees that move slowly over the ceiling changing the mood of the interior. The effect it will have on people becomes clear later, after presenting the first mock up,” Ojavee said. “It seems very easy to build but actually it is quite a challenge.”
The challenge lies in the technological solution and construction. A lot of engineering and design goes into a smart and interactive textile, and conductive materials have to be embedded to the fabric and code programmed to control the sensation of a textile that changes color or patterns.
Ojavee said this creates a good opportunity for cooperation between different universities such as the Academy of Arts and the Tallinn University of Technology.
Ojavee said she believes that developments in technology have made people more open to the idea of smart textiles and created opportunities to carry out utopian ideas that were impossible to achieve even just a few years ago.
For example, Ojavee predicts that in the future our furniture could be covered with textiles that observes our behavior. Sports garments that monitor athletes’ vital signs are already being experimented with, as well.