Intelligent clothing for exploration in extreme environments.
What is Antarctica?
The “intelligent” suit designed for these extreme environments comprises two main parts. There’s an undersuit, a very thin layer in contact in with the body, and an outer “cover” in contact with the environment to insulate the wearer’s body from the outside world.
The undersuit takes its inspiration from our skin and its ability to continually regulate temperature and ventilation/transpiration to suit the conditions in which we find ourselves as they change. The layer developed, shown in the drawing alongside, makes use of an integrated series of different elements.
It combines silk yarn for comfortable skin contact with a stiffer yarn to provide constant ventilation for the body, and silver thread to create the conductive paths for generating heat.
An electronic control unit on a flexible card constantly processes the information from a system of connected sensors, actively monitoring the wearer’s temperature and vital functions to adjust the energy used to heat the body so that the vital functions are kept optimal.
Ventilation is provided using “tunnels” with a C-shaped cross section that are in constant contact with the body and laid out in varying densities, proportional to the perspiration in different areas. This network of channels allows air to be conveyed over the body, drawing excess moisture away and out at the shoulders in a “chimney” effect.
The undersuit, which features seamless technology, has been designed to be stretchy and body-clinging with minimal thickness. The outer cover has likewise been designed to keep bulk to a minimum and facilitate every movement. In addition, special care has been devoted to reducing the number of fabric panels, and therefore seams and stitching required, with the aim of making the garment light, efficient and reliable over time.