rate and breathing, and ensure the wellbeing
and safety of the elderly. Wearable devices
already on the market include bracelets,
watches and necklaces, as well as athletic
wear such as sports bras and shirts. We
even have smart temperature stickers that
monitor a child’s vital signs during sleep.
The discrete form factors, flexibility and
cost advantages of PE versus conventional
electronics are crucial to make the most of
these devices and applications affordable
and practical. Another rapidly growing
application area is smart garments
Take, for example, OMSignal. This
Canadian company develops functional
smart apparel to help people live active,
fit and healthy lives. It is, for example,
the smart textile and software technology
behind Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech collection.
Last year, OMSignal launched the OMBra.
From a biomechanical standpoint, this smart
garment is designed to absorb the strain and
pressure of running. But it is also a piece
of fitness technology, equipped with three
heart rate sensors, a breathing wire (the first
on the market) and an accurate motion/
Patent-pending algorithms in the OMbra
app combine heart rate and breathing to
provide personalized feedback. The more a
woman runs, the more the app adapts to her
body so she can meet her weight goals and
safely improve her training.
Where is the PE market going?
Global revenues for products using PE
in 2016 is estimated at US$26.9 billion, an
annual increase of 31.8 per cent since 2010.
Consulting firm Smithers Apex expects
the market to grow to an estimated US$43
billion by 2020.
A separate forecast from IDTechEx
predicts a US$70-billion market by 2024, for
applications ranging from
organic LEDs (OLEDs)
to conductive inks for a
variety of applications.
Hundreds of millions
of dollars in joint funding
initiatives between U.S.
industry, academia and
government have been
announced in the past
few years to create the
Flexible Hybrid Electronics
The Revolutionary Fibers
and Textiles Manufacturing
Innovation Institute, and
the Smart Manufacturing
The Canadian Printable Electronics
Industry Association (CPEIA) is working to
secure similar multi-stakeholder support for
comparable industry-driven development
and commercialization initiatives in Canada.
—Peter Kallai, President and CEO
Canadian Printable Electronics
The OMBra, from OMSignal, is a smart garment designed to absorb the strain and pressure of running. It is also equipped with three heart rate
sensors, a breathing wire, and an accurate motion/accelerometer sensor. Credit: OMSignal
One application of printable electronics is organic photovoltaics (OPV). Ne w high sensitivity OPVs, from Wibicom, like the
WibiSol, can harvest ambient light for low-power applications such as self-powered sensors and self-powered antennas.