High-tech PPE and smart textiles 'will help fight COVID-19 and future pandemics'

The textiles industry supported with pioneering advanced materials will play a vital role in protecting society from COVID-19, revealed an international conference co-organised by The University of Manchester.

Prof Henry Yi LIFast-tracking new technologies such as high-tech clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) that features in-built devices - including remote diagnosis and contact tracing capabilities - were discussed at this year's Textile Bioengineering and Informatics Symposium Webinar (TBIS 2020).

The conference was delivered virtually and focused on the theme of combatting the COVID-19 pandemic with science and technology innovations.

It drew over 340 participants globally from 17 countries and regions - and 21 world-leading experts delivered plenary lectures addressing global health challenges identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), sharing their experiences in affected regions; highlighting technology innovations in the fields of intelligent fibers, textile functional materials, electronic textile materials and wearable devices; as well as digital health technology that can be applied to personal protection, infection control, disease prevention, epidemic surveillance and pandemic control.

In response to the critical challenges arising from the global COVID-19 outbreak, the textile industry plays a pivotal role in providing personal protective equipment with functional textile materials and devices, including remote diagnosis and contact tracing or smart e-textile wearables for combatting coronavirus infections.
Henry Yi Li, Professor and Chair of Textile Science and Engineering at The University of Manchester

A new global task force was also launched at the event by bringing together experts to drive multidisciplinary research in science and technology innovations in PPE and digital health to help combat pandemics.

The International Digital Health and Intelligent Fibre Science and Technology Innovation Organization (IDH-IF-STIO) was established with a governing council featuring representatives from around 17 countries. Professor Meifang Zhu of Donghua University in China was elected Council Chair, and Professor Henry Yi Li (pictured) of The University of Manchester was elected deputy Council Chair.

TBIS 2020 was hosted jointly by the Textile Bioengineering and Informatics Society (UK), State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemical Fibers and Polymer Materials (SKLFPM) of Donghua University (China) and The University of Manchester (UK), with co-organisation from ENSAIT (France), Xian Polytechnic University (China) and SFR-TSM (France).

Supporting organisations include the Textile Institute (UK), China Textile Engineering Society (China), Association of British Chinese Professors (UK), Soochow University (China), Wuhan Textile University (China), EMPA (Switzerland), Hangzhou Gandao Intelligent Technology (China), Haier (China), SGS-CSTC Standards Technical Services (Shanghai, China), NC State University (USA), Tongji Hospital (Wuhan, China) and Global Science Press.

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