Image: Patently Mobile

Over the decades, Microsoft has expanded and branched into numerous areas, some of them from the left field. Nevertheless, you probably thought you’d never see the day the company became a clothes maker. However, the apparel market is becoming increasingly tech-infused and Microsoft wants a piece of the action.

Just about everything can be smart these days if you stick a CPU in it, and it’s no different with clothing. So-called smart fabric is expected to be a major growth area in tech in the coming years. This market expansion will be driven by rapid evolution of research and development into the technology.

Tech companies not associated with fashion or clothes are already on the smart fabric train, including Samsung, Apple, and Google. Microsoft too is laying the groundwork for its own solutions.

A new patent filed by Microsoft and published by the USPTO last month details what the company has planned for smart fabric. In a patent titled “Electronically Functional Yarn,” Microsoft describes how it will embed electronic functionality into yarns that are typically non-electronically functional.

Smart Fabric

In other words, Microsoft has devised a way to make normal items of clothing electronically functional. As you may have guessed, the company achieves this by weaving computer technology through the fabric.

In the patent, Microsoft talks specifically about a smart shirt, but the tech will likely apply to any garment and indeed any non-clothing item that has fabric.

Microsoft shows how the textile structure will be comprised of parallel weft yarns alongside parallel non-functional warp yarns. Researchers would be able to include electronic functionality distributed across the non-functional yarn.