The Sporty Supaheroe by Austrian company, Utope, is a stylish cycling jacket featuring improved visibility and security in the dark. The wearable electronic system, which includes four modular smart patches with LEDs, sensors, a switch and a rechargeable battery, is based on stretchable circuit board technology developed by Fraunhofer IZM. The circuit board is made out of thermoplastic polyurethane, onto which meander-shaped copper conductors are applied. This makes it easy to integrate the board into textiles by lamination.
The four interconnected patches are equipped with 16 LEDs (white in front and red in the back), a motion sensor and a microcontroller. A thin haptic switch on the left front patch allows for turning the system on or off. A rechargeable battery connected with the system supplies power for up to 10 hours. To increase the security and usability of the system it is embedded into a flame-resistive nonwoven and a water-repellent outer textile layer. The result is a bendable, soft and lightweight electronic fabric.
The flexibility and stretchability of the textile implementation of the technology is a key factor. Besides being comfortable to wear, flexible electronics—just as flexible as the fabric itself—stay intact. Moisture resistant and washable, the system has reverse polarity protection to prevent short circuits and overheating, and is embedded in a flame-resistive nonwoven material. LED´s, sensors and controller modules are encapsulated. Any electrostatic charges arising in textiles do not affect the system.
Founded and owned by Wolfgang Langeder, Utope specializes in the development of smart clothing and wearable electronic design products. In cooperation with Fraunhofer IZM and Stretchable Circuits in Berlin, Germany, the company focuses on the integration of innovative wearable components into design products. The company also offers to do product design and technological development in the field of wearable electronics for other companies.