Smart fabric designed to detect intruders

Smart fabric detects intruders
Researchers have developed a new kind of anti-theft system based on a woven fabric that triggers an alarm when penetrated by intruders.

The patent-pending smart fabric uses a web of conductive threads connected to a microcontroller that detects warning signals emitted when the fabric is cut and triggers an alarm. This allows the exact location of a break in to be identified to the nearest centimetre.

"The fabric could be used to implement an entirely novel, invisible security system for buildings," said Erik Simon, project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM. "The electric current flowing through the fabric is so weak that it presents no danger to humans or animals."

The fabric is said to be significantly cheaper than other options because it makes use of standard materials and components. An industry standard textile weaving process is used, so the fabric can be trimmed to any length and customised to provide the desired functionality for surfaces of any size.

The conductive lattice and the data processing module that triggers the alarm in the monitoring centre are incorporated in a low temperature process that uses semiconductor joining techniques such as adhesive pressure bonding and non-destructive welding.

In lab testing, the material reportedly stood up to repeated machine washings, high humidity and temperatures up to 85ÂșC.

Laura Hopperton

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