The Future of Ageing: Textiles for an Ageing Society (TAGS)

Nov 13, 2015 | BLOG

By: Ann Blaylock, TAGS project manager, University of Innsbruck Research Institute of Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics

This blog is one in a series of blogs on the Future of Ageing, published in the lead up to the ILC-UK Future of Ageing conference on the 24th November. To register to attend this conference, click here.

In the modern day, with the ever-increasing predominance of technology, it is easy to forget about the other elements that are fundamental to our daily lives and routine.

Textiles…do you mean clothing?”

Textile applications stretch far beyond clothing and if you take a little time to think you can quite quickly see how intertwined our daily lives are with textiles. When you go to bed, you put your pyjamas on and go to sleep in a bed, covered in textiles. When you wake up, you put your clothes on. When you wash and use the bathroom, what do you use? Towels, flannels, toilet paper, wipes or sanitary items etc. When you seek a therapeutic intervention, such as physiotherapy, heat therapy, compression therapy etc. You may well be using textiles to deliver that therapy, think compression stockings/supports, heating/cooling sleeves, hoists, slings….the list goes on!

Textile innovations can be simplistic, for example simple adaptations to clothing: better placing of fastenings (Vesta), right through to high-tech applications such as sophisticated smart embroidery systems in bedding which act as sensors (but still feel soft) NewS Project.

Functionalities of textiles also include: moisture management, heat transfer, antimicrobial/antibacterial properties, absorbance, breathability, friction reduction, pressure management, sensoring, washability and ease of care, durability, odour management, protection and not forgetting, smart or e-textiles.

Wow, I had no idea!”

Our project, “Textiles for an Ageing Society (TAGS)” is an EU funded project, co-ordinated by us here at the University of Innsbruck’s Research Institute for Textile Physics and Textile Chemistry. We have 10 partners in our consortium from the UK, Italy, Germany and Austria, which range from manufacturers, technology transfer organisations, representatives of end-users and researchers.

The fundamental aim of our project is to improve or innovate product ideas and/or processes to meet the specific textile needs in the areas of bedding, clothing, hygiene, and therapy for a growing sector of the European population, with a strong focus on multi-disciplinary research, to:

  • Identify new materials, production techniques, and technologies, based on demands and requirements formulated by end-users and industry that can improve the performance of textile products for the elderly.
  • Identify and assess the scope for innovation, and of barriers preventing progress.
  • Initiate platforms for active discussion and dissemination of information between partners, and the provision of general information accessible by the public.
  • Generate new joint and collaborative concepts and initiate joint research activities.
  • Identify standards and specifications for products; and to formulate and make recommendations for policy makers.

All in all, we have found textiles to be a very niche area in Ageing research, however, we strongly believe that textile based innovations can benefit us as we transition into old-age and support us in the latter stages of life. TAGS is due to conclude in December 2015, however we endeavour to continue our research and our network of experts (from all disciplines) and generate innovative solutions that can aid and support a growing sector of the EU population.

If you would like any further information or even better, would be interested in working together (interest from any facet of ageing research is welcome), please do not hesitate to contact me

Ann Blaylock

TAGS Project Manager, University of Innsbruck Institute of Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics

Since completing her degree, Ann has been building a career around Mathematics, developing skills in commercial data analytics and analysis, industrial processes and project management.