NFC Chips Stitched In: The Latest Breakthrough in Clothing Tech

A team of researchers working at Nottingham Trent University have come up with a solution to embed NFC chips into yarn, that is used to create garments. The applications of this technology include enhancements in retail security as well as stock taking and manufacturing. It could even mean that garments could be tracked on a journey across the globe.

The chips are sealed into micro pods made from resin and added to the yarns, and can be put in the wash and tumble dryer safely. The chips transmit information via tiny copper strands that protrude from either side of the chip. The dimensions of the chip are 1mm by 0.5mm and will be very affordable.

Besides NFC chips, other types such as RFID can be used. The technology can be used in conjunction with smartphones in necessary. Multiple garments may be scanned at once, which should speed up stock takes. A number of companies have expressed an interest in the technology and it could come to market in the very near future.

By using NFC chips, a provision is being made to make items of clothing readable at a small distance by regular consumer communications devices such as tablets and smartphones. RFID chips are more commonly used in retail because they allow for reading multiple items from further away.

The new technology has the potential to be a great benefit to retail companies, by providing a higher level of anti-counterfeiting and theft protection. Potential thieves will not be able to locate and remove the chip without causing significant damage to the garment.

Companies will save great amounts of time by being able to scan an entire shipment at once, without needing to scan each tag individually. This should mean costs for everyone in the retail chain, from consumers to retailers and manufacturers coming down.

The researchers claim that in the distant future the technology could work with smart washing machines and dryers to analyze the load.

It could also allow vulnerable people to be monitored by providing them with RFID enabled clothing or at least retrofitting them in order to look after their movements and welfare more efficiently.

Ultimately, it will be up to each industry to find out how they can best use the new technology, and this is an exciting prospect for the researchers.