Devin Coldewey: These stretchy, durable sensors could be woven right into clothing

If we must have an Internet of Things, it makes no sense to leave clothes out of the party. But clothes must be worn, washed, bunched up and folded — it’s hard to make electronics that can survive all that. Plenty are trying, though; the latest attempt is from Harvard’s Wyss Institute, which uses a simple but effective layering method to make a durable, customizable flex sensor.

It’s quite basic, in a way: a material sandwich with layers of conductive fabric above and below a filling of silicone. When the fabric stretches, the silicone gets thinner and the conductive layers get closer together, changing their capacitance and producing a different electrical signal.