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A recent market study says the global smart textiles market in the military sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 10% during 2016-2020.

According to Technavio research company website, military clothing has been an important part of a combat soldier’s performance and has played a significant role in their protection. This becomes even more important when they are deployed under rugged circumstances and demanding conditions.

Smart textiles for the military have evolved over time with the addition of several features to enhance their functionality. The growing demand has helped the growth of the global smart textiles market in the military sector.

“BAE Systems, one of the key vendors in the market. offers a wide range of products and security. The company, in collaboration with leading e-textiles developer ITL, has developed Broadsword Spine — a modern, wearable technology that can substitute for the heavy portable data and power supplies that are generally carried by military personnel. Such innovations are expected to drive the market in the forecast period,” says Moutushi Saha, one of the market research analysts at Technavio for defense research.

The Broadsword Spine is an invisible network that is built directly into clothing, by using conductive fabrics instead of wires and cables. Electronic devices can be plugged straight into a vest, jacket or belt to be hooked into power and data. The technology is a garment’s insert that delivers power and data connectivity through a revolutionary e-textile combined with a power and data management system, according to BAE’s website.

Market segmentation of smart textiles in the military sector includes active smart, passive smart, and ultra-smart textiles.

The active smart textiles segment dominated the market and accounted for the highest market share in 2015. These second-generation smart textiles accommodate sensors that can sense the external environmental changes and actuators, which act in accordance to the stimuli sensed. Active smart textiles have the shape memory property and are chameleonic, water-resistant, vapor permeable and absorbing, and heat storage and thermos regulated fabrics. The camouflage technique that these textiles offer has prompted several countries to focus on the R&D of fiber optics, thermal sensitive materials, photosensitive materials, conductive polymers, and chemical-responsive fabrics.

Ultra-smart textiles are the third generation of smart textiles. These can sense, react, and adapt themselves to any changes in environmental conditions or stimuli. They have a controlling unit that works like the brain with cognition, reasoning, and activating capacities.

The production of ultra-smart textiles is still in the R&D stage, undergoing fine-tuning to find the perfect blend of conventional textiles and clothing technologies with various other branches of science like material science, sensor and actuator technology, advanced processing technology, structural mechanics, communication, artificial intelligence, biology, and others. New textile materials and miniaturized electronic components make up for the production and procurement of ultra-smart textiles, according to businesswire.com.

The Americas dominated the global market and occupied the maximum market share during 2015. The security requirements of the Americas are rising considerably with the increasing threats from various militant groups along with territorial disputes. Such security concerns have prompted countries like the US, Canada, Mexico, and other Latin American nations to increase their focus on offering the soldiers wearables equipped with electronic devices to boost their situational awareness.