Smart Textiles Standardisation

The technical workgroup CEN/TC 248 Textiles and textile products, WG 31 Smart Textiles was established in 2008 and has since then been presided by Centexbel.

The working group has published the documents:

  • CEN/TR 16298:2011 "Textiles and textile products — Smart textiles — Definitions, categorisation, applications and standardisation needs"
  • EN 16812:2016 "Textiles and textile products — Electrically conductive textiles — Determination of the linear electrical resistance of conductive tracks"
  • EN 16806-1:2016 "Textiles and textile products — Textiles containing phase change materials (PCM) — Part 1: Determination of the heat storage and release capacity"

The current work programme includes three projects:

  • Revision of CEN/TR 16298
  • PWI CEN/TR "Textiles and textile products — Textiles with integrated electronics and ICT — Definitions, categorisation, applications and standardisation needs"
  • PWI EN 16806-2 "Development of WI 00248577 Textiles and textile products — Textiles containing phase change materials (PCM) — Part 2: Determination of the heat transfer using a dynamic method"

In recent years the activity on smart textiles standardisation has also been taken up in other parts of the world, in some cases limited to electronic textiles (also referred to as e-textiles):

  • IEC SG 10 Smart wearable devices (2015) (also evaluating wearable electronic textiles)
  • ASTM D13.50 Smart textiles (2016)
  • AATCC R111 Electronically integrated textiles (2016)


Commonly the expressions "smart" and "intelligent" textiles or wearables are used interchangeably.

The term "smart textile" may refer to either a "smart textile material" or a "smart textile system". Only the context will determine which one of the two following definitions apply:

  • Smart (intelligent) textile material: functional textile material actively interacting with its environment, i.e. responding or adapting to changes in the environment
  • Smart (intelligent) textile system: textile system exhibiting an intended and exploitable response as a reaction either to changes in its surroundings/environment or to an external signal/input

Other definitions for the sake of clarity:

  • Textile material:
    material made of textile fibres and intended to be used, as such or in conjunction with other textile or non-textile items, for the production of textile products
  • Functional textile material:
    textile material to which a specific function is added by means of material, composition, construction and/or finishing (applying additives, etc.)
  • Smart textile material (intelligent textile material):
    functional textile material, which interacts actively with its environment, i.e. it responds or adapts to changes in the environment
  • Environment (surroundings):
    the circumstances, objects, or conditions, which surround a textile material or textile product or the user of that material or product

Smart textile systems can be subdivided into four categories:


Wearable Intelligence

IEC SG 10 Wearable Smart Devices

Wearable Smart Devices are electronic devices and components intended to be located near, on or in an organism that have intelligent functionality and/or may be a part of an intelligent system via connectivity, and can be distinguished as follows:

  • Near-body electronics:
    electronic devices and components intended to be located near an organism where it does not contact the external surface of the organism directly
  • On-body electronics:
    electronic devices and components intended to be located on an organism where it contacts the external surface of the organism directly
  • In-body electronics:
    electronic devices and components intended to be located internal to an organism
  • Electronic Textiles:
    fabrics or textile-based electronic devices and components

IEC took the decision in fall 2016 to establish a full technical committee (TC) on Wearable Smart Devices, under the lead of South Korea. The committee is expected to become operational in 2017. The intention is to have a separate working group on electronic textiles.

IEC System Committee Active Assisted Living (SyC AAL)

This committee was established in December 2015 to create a vision of Active Assisted Living* that takes account of the evolution of the market and fosters standardisation that:

  • enables usability and accessibility of AAL systems and services
  • enables cross-vendor interoperability of AAL systems, services, products and components
  • addresses systems level aspects such as safety, security and privacy
  • communicate the work of the SyC appropriately to foster a strong community of stakeholders

*Active Assisted Living How can information and communication technology (ICT) help the elderly live independently in their homes? Nowadays humans live longer lives, despite the overall shrinking population in Europe. Due to this demographic change, who will take care of the elderly and ensure the quality of life for every citizen? In Europe, the number of people over 65 years old will double by 2050. This puts a heavy burden on the health and welfare system, especially when combined with a declining work force. Taking on this challenge is an opportunity for innovation, not only for society but also for the industrial sector.

Further reading