Smart and Interactive Textiles

Published - Oct 2004| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - AVM050A
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Report Highlights

  • The U.S. market for smart and interactive textiles is valued at an estimated $64.4 million in 2004 and is expected to rise at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 36% to $299.3 million in 2009.
  • Consumer products that include low-tech items such as photochromic tshirts and swimsuits account for the bulk of the U.S. market.
  • Phase change and conductive textiles accounted for the rest of the market.
  • Military, biomedical, and vehicle safety and comfort applications are projected to grow rapidly.
  • Sales of conductive fabrics are expected to nearly double each year and shape-memory products are entering the market in commercial quantities.


Smart or interactive textiles (SMITs) are a new type of textile technology. They potentially will have a broad, but as yet, unforeseeable impact on the market for protective clothing, medical textiles and other textile products and applications. SMITs are able to sense electrical, thermal, chemical, magnetic or other stimuli from the environment and adapt or respond to them, using functionalities integrated into the textile structure. SMITs do not have a fixed set of characteristics, but are active elements that work with their own control and response mechanisms.

To date, the U.S. military has been the leader in developing SMIT technologies and applications for such areas as body armor, artificial muscles, biochemical hazard protection, physiological status monitoring, location and embedded communications and computing. Many of these same technologies also have potential civilian and commercial applications. Indeed, the commercial sector has been ahead of the military in commercializing SMIT technologies.

This BCC report provides a thorough examination of emerging SMIT technologies and applications, and assesses their commercial potential in the U.S. It identifies segments of the SMIT market with the greatest commercial potential in the near to mid-term (2004 to 2009), projects future demand in these segments, and evaluates the challenges that must be overcome for each segment to realize its potential.


The report contains:


  • An overview including milestones in SMIT development and definitions of SMIT
  • Examination of current and potential SMIT applications
  • Analysis of applications and end-users with the greatest commercial potential through 2009
  • SMIT market trends with forecasts through 2009
  • Examination of factors that will influence long-term market development
  • Market shares and industry structure.
  • Analysis of the global context of developments in the U.S. market.



Specific methodologies and assumptions used to develop market projections are described below under detailed market estimates and projections. This section includes some general observations concerning:


  • The approach taken in this report to estimate the market for developmental technologies whose commercial potential generally has not been demonstrated.
  • Estimates of the market for SMIT applications rather than SMIT per se.


Estimating The Market for Developmental Technologies

Projecting the market for emerging technologies such as most SMIT applications, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task. This report uses a multiphase approach to identify applications with the greatest commercial potential and to quantify the market for these applications.

In the first phase of the analysis, a "long list" of SMIT technologies (including technologies that still are under development) was identified and mapped against potential applications, e.g., information technology and electronics, biotechnology and health care.

In the second phase, those technologies that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial production in the next 5 years were identified through a literature review and statements from industry sources. The result of phase two was a "short list" of technologies and applications with the greatest near to mid-term commercial potential.

The third phase focused on quantifying the potential market for each short-listed SMIT technology application and identifying the key prerequisites for commercial success. Various methodologies and data sources were used to develop these projections, including trend line, input-output analysis, and estimates of future demand from industry sources.

Estimating The Market for SMIT Applications

Due to the difficulty in quantifying the inputs of SMIT required to produce such a wide range of products, many of which still are in development, market projections generally reflect the anticipated value of SMIT applications rather than the SMIT component. For example, the projected market for biomedical "smart shirts" is based on the market value of the shirt rather than the cost of the smart textile material used to fabricate it.


The author of this report is Andrew McWilliams. He is a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm of 43rd Parallel LLC. Mr. McWilliams is the author of a number of other BCC studies. In particular, he has written the following reports that are relevant to SMIT technologies or applications:


  • B-186 Patient Monitoring Devices
  • GB-285 Emerging RF Technologies
  • GB-290 Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Evaluation


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