Apple may be developing new 'smart fabric' for sportswear, patent suggests

Apple Watch
(Image credit: Kanut Photo / Shutterstock)

Apple is developing 'smart fabric buttons' that could be integrated into clothing, according to a newly registered patent.

In the listing, Apple notes that the tech could be used to connect computers, phones, watch bands and pendants, as well as clothing such as "a hat, belt, wrist band, headband, sock, glove, shirt, pants, etc".

The idea appears to be a rival to Google's smart clothing venture, Project Jacquard, which uses conductive yarns, sensors and 'buttons' to connect garments to your smartphone.

Its products so far have included a denim jacket made in partnership with Levi's, which allows wearers to control their phone by tapping their sleeve, a pair of Adidas insoles for controlling FIFA Mobile using your feet, and a Samsonite backpack that gives you turn-by-turn directions and lets you control your music through the strap.

Material world

Although we don't yet know how Apple might use its smart fabric, sportswear is a distinct possibility. The company has made serious investment in health over recent months, with the launch of Apple Fitness Plus and new wellness features like Time to Walk for the Apple Watch.

The patent also describes how wearables with 'smart buttons' could gather personal information about the user. "For instance, health and fitness data may be used to provide insights into a user's general wellness, or may be used as positive feedback to individuals using technology to pursue wellness goals."

Sportswear with 'smart buttons' would allow a user to control workout apps when they can't use their watch's touchscreen – such as in a swimming pool, or when wearing gloves for activities like skiing.

If connected to sensors (another option mentioned in the patent), the tech could also be used in sportswear for activities like yoga and weightlifting, providing real-time feedback on posture and form.

These are just a few possibilities, and a patent is no guarantee that a finished product will ever be released, but we'll keep you up to date if any more details emerge.

Via Patently Apple

Cat Ellis
Homes Editor

Cat is Homes Editor on TechRadar, specializing in kitchen appliances and smart home technology. She's been a journalist for 15 years, is a keen home cook, and is here to help you choose the right tech for your home, get the best deals, and do more with your new devices.