Xelflex is wearable technology that its inventor believes combines science with fashion. Matthew Stock reports.
Sportswear that's not only comfortable, but actually tells you how to improve your technique. That's the premise of Xelflex, a smart fabric developed by scientists in Cambridge to provide intelligent feedback for athletes. Inventor Martin Brock says the garment itself becomes an active motion sensor, with real synergy between fashion and functionality. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARTIN BROCK, XELFLEX INVENTOR, SAYING: "There's no compromise between having a sensor that gives you feedback on your motion or your performance; and having some clothing that is comfortable and wearable and elegant as part of the everyday activities." As sports therapy becomes increasingly hi-tech, Xelflex's designers hope stars such as Rafael Nadal could benefit from their current tennis software. As a joint is flexed, Xelflex measures the scattering of light in the thread-like optical fibre. Algorithms turn the results into useful feedback for the wearer; such as correcting posture and movement, and coaching techniques on how to improve. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARTIN BROCK, XELFLEX INVENTOR, SAYING: "So what we then do is process those raw joint motions into something that gives intelligent feedback, acting like a virtual coach to improve your technique, or just allowing you to record your body motions in a training session with a coach and then compare what you're doing a couple of weeks later to what you were taught to do, to see if you've lapsed into your old bad habits." Duncan Smith, from technology developers Cambridge Consultants, says Xelflex's integrated sensors could be a game changer in the wearable tech market. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUNCAN SMITH, HEAD OF PRODUCTS AND SYSTEMS AT CAMBRIDGE CONSULTANTS, SAYING: "This means that fashions designers can design the clothes rather than technologists designing wearable technology that's just a wristband or something like that. And that's a big step forward." While the current prototype consists of just a glove and sleeve, the developers say the Xelflex technology is at an advanced stage. They are looking to attract fashion and design companies who can integrate their research....and serve up a treat for budding sports stars.