This 'smart fabric' comes with built-in water cooling

This 'smart fabric' comes with built-in water cooling

Overheating is a common problem during exercise, but Finnish researchers are working on a smart fabric that could let your clothes automatically turn on a water cooling system when you get hot.

It works by embedding 'microchannels' into the fabric, which cold (or hot) liquids can flow through. It's similar to the technology that keeps astronauts cool in their spacesuits, but on a much smaller scale.

Scaled to fit

While microchannels have been embedded into fabric before, the process has been limited by high production costs and the small size of the network of channels. Now, however, a team at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has come up with a way of fabricating these microchannels at scale.

As well as cooling and heating in clothes, the technology could be used in rigid plastic to dispense perfume, medicine, or even strong spices at restaurants, in precise quantities.

VTT says it's hoping to commercialise the technology, and is looking for partners in the sports, outdoor recreation, wearable technology and cosmetics industries to help.

Image credit: Skeeze // CC0

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.