Wearables and consumer electronics

Wearables, smart textiles, and accessories

The consumer electronics industry is one of the largest industrial sectors to see a surge in the use of printed electronics. This innovative technology is used in e-reader, smartphone and tablet displays, they turn clothing and accessories into smart wearables and they make devices easier to use with the help of touch sensors.

Products featuring printed electronics are becoming increasingly common in the consumer electronics industry. Standout products, such as wearables (clothing items and accessories with integrated electronic functionality) are the most impressive models. Other examples include special t-shirts that measure your pulse during exercises; smart watches and fitness trackers go one step further as they measure a broader range of wearer data. Looking to the future, this industry is ideally suited for the printed electronics technology: Wearables become flexible, stretchable and ultra light.

Another key application are electrophoretic displays, whose screens are daylight compatible and only require a small amount of power. Today they can be found in e-readers, smart price tags, and USB sticks. OLED displays are used as TV screens and in smartphones and tablets, thus opening up brand new possibilities in terms of image quality, due to improved contrast and more vibrant colors. Curved designs are now also being developed for use in devices such as mobile phones. The curved shape reflects the curvature of the human face and improves usability.

Touch sensors are also being used in an increasing number of mass-produced products, for example in stereo equipment, washing machines and refrigerators.

The outlook for this sector is very positive. A number of further applications are also viable or currently in development.

Wearable smart devices market

Demand for printed electronic displays in smart device applications is forecast to increase from a nascent level at a year-on-year rate of over 100 percent across the 2016–21 period.

Source: The Future of High-Barrier Films and Coatings for Printed Electronics to 2021