Fields of application for smart textiles

Hochschule Niederrhein. Your way.

Smart textiles can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from smart homes to medical products. Here we present some of the applications that we have already developed in demonstrators and prototypes.

Protective textiles that think with you

Sensory sting resistant jacket



Within the framework of the ZIM-funded project "Development of a sensor for stab protection clothing" in cooperation with the project partners Bache Modeland GmbH, Freyer & Siegel Elektronik GmbH & Co. KG, the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences developed electrically conductive dispersions for screen and digital printing. These were then applied on various knitted fabrics and spacer fabrics. The structures resulted in stitch-sensing inserts for stitch-resistant jackets.

The jackets were developed for "worst case" scenarios for persons serving in public life, e.g. bus drivers, taxi drivers, security staff or employees in employment and social services.



Within the Cornet project with the Hogeschool Gent / Belgium, the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences develops sensory and actuator hybrid threads and seam structures for sports and protective clothing systems. Wearable prototypes are being developed that emit light, show humidity and temperature or can also track body movements.

Funding code: 09689-19 (Cornet IGF-Vorhaben)

Involved persons: M.Sc. Katalin Mengler, Dr. Thomas Grethe, Prof. Dr. Kerstin Zöll, Prof. Dr. Thomas Weide, Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer

SmartSeam – Sensory and Actuating Functional Seams Applying Hybrid Yarns for the FashionTech Industry

Medicine, Health, Healthcare

Textile-integrated sensor technology for feedback-supported rehabilitation after surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament - KneTex




With the help of the KneTex knee support, unhealthy movement sequences are to be recognized and localized by recording the position and angle of the knee, the relevant leg muscles and the movement context. With a corresponding feedback actuator system, harmful movements should be corrected immediately. It enables the reduction of the recurrence and complication rate of patients with surgically treated anterior cruciate ligament rupture and the independent use by the patient in everyday life.

The combination of methods of textile technology, sensor technology, embedded IT with corresponding analysis methods and actuators using new technology in the design of the electronic components not only serves to record the position and angle of the knee, but also the activity of the relevant leg muscles and the context of movement in more detail Resolution.

Modern feedback processes ensure that the movement sequence is directly influenced at the moment of the event while at the same time long-term reorientation in the movement sequences. A simple application in the home environment is determined by robustness in use with scientifically based evaluation of the effectiveness and user acceptance.

Stay up to date and follow our progress on Researchgate!

Funding code: EFRE 0801285

Involved persons: M.Sc. Ramona Nolden, Manuela Niemeyer, M.Sc. Julia Demmer, Andreas Kitzig, Prof. Dr. Edwin Naroska, Prof. Dr. Martin Alfurth, Prof. Dr. Kerstin Zöll, Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer


The smart glove consists of a glove with integrated bending sensor in the finger and an attachable cuff. The signals from the textile bending sensor in the glove are controlled by a microcontroller in the cuff and forwarded to the LED-Functional Sequin DevicesTM which take place at the back of the hand.

The circuit layout is made of conductive thread which is implemented by embroidery technology. The embroidered pattern contains the textile data conductors, the LEDs and the connection to the microcontroller. The LED-FSDsTM are conventional sequins with circuit layout and are carriers of small electronic components. With a defined and reproducible process, they are automatically placed, fixed and contacted.

The smart glove enables the mobile sensory detection of the motor mobility of the fingers. In addition to the finger training, the smart glove also serves as biofeedback by visualizing the motion signals using the LED-FSDsTM. The biofeedback signalizes the success of the therapy to the operator, acts as a self-control over the motor training process and increases the motivation and the learning process.

Therapy glove

Lifestyle and Smart Home

In various projects we have already integrated different light sources into clothing systems. Besides LED-embroidered sequins, leaded LEDs are used as well as electroluminescent wires and optical fibres in combination with a laser source.

SolTex - Development of textile-based natural dye synthesized solar cells



Natural dye synthesized solar cells now represent an interesting alternative to silicon-based solar cells. Even though their efficiency is still significantly lower than that of conventional solar cells, they can be produced without clean room conditions and from relatively inexpensive, non-toxic materials. In the DBU-funded "SolTex" project, the first steps towards textile-based dye solar cells for a self-sufficient power supply were successfully taken. On a laboratory and small pilot plant scale, functioning solar cells were produced mainly from natural materials and their effectiveness was measured. No environmentally harmful substances were used, in particular no organic solvents and no heavy metals. All applied processes are scalable. Project partners of the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences were InovisCoat GmbH and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences.


In the ZIM project "Development of flexibly designable and digitally printed luminescent textiles for the advertising and architecture industry", the company Thamm GmbH and the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences jointly developed ink formulations for digitally controlled dispenser printing of electroluminescent textiles. The development of a suitable dispenser technology was also the subject of the development.

For more information, see:;

Funding code: ZF4102202CJ6 (ZIM-Kooperationsprojekt)

Involved persons: M.Sc. Evelyn Lempa, Carsten Grassmann, Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer

Digitally-printed illuminated textiles

El-Fib - Illuminated wallpapers produced in a continuous process



Together with Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH, AdPhos Innovative Technologies GmbH, IMST GmbH and Belgian partners (funded by ZIM International), the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences developed electroluminescent textile wallpapers which are produced using a continuous process and are electrically supplied by a miniature inverter controlled by sensors. Among other technologies, an intermittent slot die nozzle was used to sample the luminescent layer. Above that,  an NIR drying system was applied.

Funding code: ZF4102214SL8 (IraSME-Förderung)

Involved persons: M.Sc. Evelyn Lempa, Mirja Kreuziger, Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer


The Cornet project "AmbiTex - Textile integrated sensors for monitoring of ambient parameters" dealt with the development of textile humidity and temperature sensors. Together with the University of Innsbruck / Austria, the aim was to realize both sensors as textile-based and electrically evaluable as possible to allow a quantitative analysis. The work of Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences concentrated on the development of printed, coated and embroidered capacitive humidity sensors. For this purpose, the change in the dielectric permittivity of a medium was considered, which, if it can absorb moisture, depends on its water content.

Funding code: 03137-16 (Cornet IGF-Vorhaben)

Involved persons: Dr. Thomas Grethe, M.Sc. Katalin Mengler, M.Sc. Susanne Küppers, Prof. Dr. habil. Maike Rabe, Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer