Aug. 30 - Clothing containing electrically conductive thread may soon lighten the load of British soldiers in the field. The clothing is designed to charge computers, GPS, radios and other equipment required by soldiers, allowing them to leave their burdensome batteries and cables behind. Joanne Nicholson reports.
Weaving fabric at a manually controlled loom is a world away from army combat. But this young company in the UK, believes it's fabric has the power to transform warfare and the lives of British soldiers in the field. "Intelligent Textiles" has come up with a cloth that conducts electricity, potentially removing the burden of heavy battery packs. Instead, the spark is in the thread SOUNDBITE: DR STAN SWALLOW, INTELLIGENT TEXTILES, SAYING: "We've incorporated what we call a personal area network. so this thing has a conductive textile incorporated into that then interconnects various computing and GPS and radio devices and batteries throughout the whole uniform." Stan Swallow has been experimenting alongside business partner, Asha Thompson, with the same kind of ballistic vests currently being used in Afghanistan SOUNDBITE: DR STAN SWALLOW, INTELLIGENT TEXTILES, SAYING: "Soldiers hate conventional cables. They tend to tangle, they can get caught up with items of equipment, especially in the backs of vehicles and they can also be quite uncomfortable." A number of devices can take power from the vests with just one small battery - cameras, GPS and radio devices. Stan swallow says tests with British troops, were a great success. SOUNDBITE: DR STAN SWALLOW, INTELLIGENT TEXTILES, SAYING: "The guys started out, understandably, a little sceptical about this but after about ten minutes of wearing it and trying it out, and reconfiguring the various devices, they ended up saying that they really quite liked it.", If the British army goes ahead with the pioneering fabric, soldiers could be wearing the new 'less is more' uniforms by 2016, bringing a new era of versatility and empowerment to the battlefield.