Smart Fabric Stops Intruders

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This is no ordinary security blanket. A new smart fabric has just debuted in Germany that can set burglars straight. This fabric may look harmless during a break in, but cut it and security guards will be all over you in a second. The signal it sends out is such a small amount of current that intruders wouldn't feel it, also making it safe for innocent people ripping the wrong thread at the wrong time.

Fibers in the fabric are conductive and send a signal to the microcontroller, which starts the alarm. The fabric can tell you exactly where the cut was made, to the centimeter. Imagine covering a truck, or the front of a bank vault with these sheets. They are perfect for protecting wide surface areas. Additionally, they are much cheaper then any other anti-theft mechanism out there. This opens up whole new strategies for protecting valuables. You can place the fabric over the ceiling tiles to prevent a "Mission Impossible" style entry, line whole walls with it, and even make it part of the carpet, adding pressure sensors for the careful walk of an intruder.

This novel protection system is the combination of pioneering electronics and the legacy of South Germany textile manufacturing. Fraunhofer's Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM worked together with Ettlingen-based Ettlin Spinnerei und Weberei Produktion GmbH, one of the oldest textile companies in Germany, to create this product. The process to make the fabrics uses simple and standard materials: a conductive thread, coated with silver, and integrated onto a bed of plastic. Both partners brought their expertise into the creation of the fabric. They used standard semiconductor welding techniques, coupled with textile weaving. This is the first time that these two production methods are being used together, and the results have been astounding. The fabric can be tailored to any length, perfect for custom-fitting a designated area.

Most importantly is that the fabric is durable and performs well, regardless of exposure. The researchers beat the fabric and threw it into a washing machine. Then they subjected it to a 'sauna' of 85% humidity at 850C for 1,000 hours. Lastly, they put it in a variable furnace and made the temperature oscillate between -400C and 850C. The fabric passed these grueling tests with flying colors. To protect your valuables, you shouldn't expect any less.

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