Capacitive Fabric

What is Capacitive Fabric?

Capacitive fabric is a type of smart textile that incorporates capacitive technology, which can detect and measure anything that is conductive or has a dielectric different from air. It is often made by weaving or embedding conductive threads into the fabric, such as silver or copper threads, alongside non-conductive fibers.

Capacitive Yarn.png
(This is actually capacitive "yarn" 🤫 -- capacitive textiles come in many forms and this made the best photo. 🤷🏼‍♀️)


The fundamental properties of capacitive fabric stem from the principles of capacitance. When a conductive object, such as a human finger, comes into proximity with the fabric, it alters the electrostatic field and changes the capacitance in that area. These changes can be measured and translated into electrical signals.

Capacitive fabrics are designed to be flexible, durable, and washable while maintaining their sensing capabilities. They often have the following attributes:

  • Sensitivity: Able to detect minute changes in capacitance.
  • Conductivity: The fabric can conduct electricity to sense touch and proximity.
  • Flexibility: Unlike traditional electronic components, the fabric can bend and fold, which makes it ideal for wearable applications.
  • Permeability: It allows air and moisture to pass through, ensuring comfort for the wearer.

The working of capacitive fabric relies on a simple capacitive circuit that creates an electric field. Interruptions in this field caused by gestures or touch are measured by sensors connected to the fabric.

Use in Gesture Recognition

Capacitive fabric is increasingly being used in the field of gesture recognition. By integrating it into clothing or other wearable textiles, users can control devices or applications with simple movements or touches. The fabric detects the gestures based on the change in capacitance caused by the gesture, and algorithms interpret these changes to determine the specific gesture made by the user.

Here are a few ways capacitive fabric is utilized in gesture recognition:

  • Wearable Tech: Smart garments that allow users to interact with electronics seamlessly, such as controlling music playback with a tap on a sleeve.
  • Soft Robotics: Incorporation in soft robotic structures for sensing human interaction or environmental conditions.
  • Healthcare: Monitoring patients' movements or providing gesture control in assistive devices.
  • Gaming: Creating interactive, motion-sensitive gaming experiences through clothing or soft controllers.