Stretchable Electronics and Electrics 2015-2025: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts

Stretchable Electronics and Electrics 2015-2025: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts

IDTechEX, Date of Publication: Jan 20, 2016, 303 Pages

Stretchable electronics concerns electrical and electronic circuits and combinations of these that are elastically or inelastically stretchable by more than a few percent while retaining function. For that, they tend to be laminar and usually thin. No definitions of electronics and electrical sectors are fully watertight but it is convenient to consider stretchable electronics as a part of printed electronics, a term taken to include printed and potentially printed (eg thin film) electronics and electrics. This is because the cost, space and weight reduction sought in most cases is best achieved by printing and printing-like technologies.


Commercialization is elusive, though there are some initial adoption such as moldable parts in vehicles and shape changing electroactive polymers for haptic response. New devices also include Reebok's head impact indicator "CheckLight". These are just the beginning, with end users and participants seeing huge potential.


Over $1 billion has been spent on research on stretchable electronics in 35 years

Electronics that are very elastic or deformable without loss of function has seen several hundred million dollars spent by universities on such research so far and more modest tens of millions of dollars has been raised by companies to pursue the opportunity. A notable example of this was the 2012 round of $12.5 million by MC10 in the USA, a company exclusively dedicated to commercialising stretchable electronics. Others are involved in the materials to enable stretchable electronics such as carbon nanotubes.

Market and territory analysis

The applications targeted are primarily in healthcare, including health-related monitoring and management for military purposes and sport. About 40% of the research and commercialisation of stretchable electronics takes place in the USA, with the UK, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Korea and Japan, also making a broad impact. This report examines who is bringing what to market and why and it analyses where the most promising opportunities lie. It scopes the emerging stretchable technologies, many of which promise huge improvements, opening yet more potential markets.

Main areas the report covers

The report examines how stretchable technology fits into the electronics and end user markets, the materials and applications that look most promising, and the lessons of success and failure. Profiles of 56 organizations that have made significant advances are provided.


At this early stage forecasting is difficult but we give some indications for the next ten years and reveal many key trends. We provide forecasts for allied sectors such as printed and flexible electronics which interrelate to stretchable electronics.

This report purchase includes up to 30 minutes telephone time with an expert analyst who will help you link key findings in the report to the business issues you're addressing. This needs to be used within three months of purchasing the report.



1.1. Forecasts 2015-2025
1.1.1. The market for e-textiles and e-fibers 2014-2024
1.2. Challenges and opportunities
1.3. Results of survey of e-fiber projects for e-textiles
1.4. Market for wearable electronic devices and e-textiles 2014-2024
1.4.1. Market for wearable electronics 2014-2024
1.5. e-fiber technology
1.5.1. The market for printed electronics 2014-2024
1.6. Definition and purpose
1.7. Commercial success
1.8. Unbalanced value chain
1.9. Four types of stretchable electronics
1.10. Categories of printed electronics and the place of stretchable
1.11. The three most promising types
1.12. Popular approach of islands
1.13. Extreme stretchability
1.14. Potential benefits
1.15. Activities by organisation
1.16. The potential significance of flexible and stretchable electronics
1.17. Stretchability in order to manufacture formed parts


2.1. Ubiquitous electronics
2.2. Characteristics of the new electronics
2.3. Demographic timebomb
2.4. The evolving toolkit
2.5. Very different from the traditional value chain
2.6. Stretchable electronics
2.7. Stretchable, bendable electronics - a stretchable highway for light
2.8. Foldable electronics
2.9. Removing pressure points from electronic skin patches and bandages
2.10. Printing sensors
2.11. Wide repertoire
2.12. Lessons from Samsung Future Technology Needs, London 16 June 2014
2.13. Basis for electronics that stretch at the molecular level
2.14. A Stretchable Highway for Light
2.15. A stretchable, foldable transparent electronic display
2.16. A gel that is clearly revolutionary


3.1. Value chain
3.2. Failures
3.3. Key enabling technology
3.4. Conductive yarns
3.5. Solid state electrolytes
3.6. Parallel work on improved DSSC
3.7. Lessons from Samsung Future Technology Needs, London 16 June 2014
3.8. Structural components are the future
3.9. Electrically and electronically active fibers
3.10. Conductive fibers
3.10.1. CETEMMSA Spain
3.10.2. Clothing+ Finland
3.10.3. Cornell University USA, Bologna & Cagliari Universities Italy
3.10.4. ETHZ Switzerland
3.10.5. Florida State University USA
3.10.6. National Physical Laboratory NPL UK
3.10.7. Textronics (adidas) Germany
3.11. Piezoelectrics
3.11.1. Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
3.11.2. University of Bolton UK
3.12. Flexible piezoelectric fabric
3.12.2. Concordia University XS Labs Canada
3.12.3. Cornell University USA
3.12.4. Georgia Institute of Technology USA
3.12.5. Southampton University UK
3.12.6. University of California Berkeley USA
3.12.7. University of California, Berkeley USA
3.13. OLED display
3.13.1. Technical University of Darmstadt Germany
3.14. Solid phase change display
3.15. Photovoltaics
3.15.1. CETEMMSA and DEPHOTEX Spain
3.15.2. Illuminex USA
3.15.3. Konarka (no longer trading) USA, EPFL Switzerland
3.15.4. Penn State University USA and Southampton University UK
3.15.5. University of Southampton UK
3.16. Supercapacitors
3.16.1. Drexel University USA
3.16.2. Imperial College London
3.16.3. Powerweave European Commission
3.16.4. Supercapacitor yarn in China
3.16.5. Stanford University USA
3.16.6. University of Delaware USA
3.16.7. University of Wollongong Australia
3.16.8. Stretchable supercapacitors in 2014-15
3.17. Electro-optics and sensors
3.17.1. MIT's Research Lab of Electronics USA
3.17.2. Purdue University USA
3.18. Batteries
3.18.1. Polytechnic School of Montreal Canada
3.18.2. Self-healing polymers University of Illinois USA
3.18.3. Host CNT web University of Texas at Dallas USA
3.18.4. Superelastic battery
3.19. Transistors
3.20. Memory
3.20.1. NASA USA


4.1. Active monitoring hardware
4.2. Birubin blanket
4.3. Controlling brain seizures
4.4. Epidermal electronics
4.5. Heart monitoring and control
4.5.1. Driving defibrillator and pacemaker implants
4.5.2. Mapping heart action and providing therapy
4.5.3. Bio-integrated electronics for cardiac therapy
4.6. Medical micropackaging
4.7. Monitoring compression garments
4.8. Monitoring babies
4.9. Monitoring shoe insoles of those with diabetes
4.10. Monitoring vital signs with smart textiles
4.11. Stretchable electronic fibers: supercapacitors
4.12. Non-invasive sensing and analysis of sweat
4.13. Renal function monitoring
4.14. Remote monitoring and telemetry of vital signs
4.14.1. Body Area Networks BAN
4.14.2. Skin sensors with telemetry


5.1. Wearable electronics
5.1.1. Energy harvester
5.1.2. Stretchable watch
5.2. Sport and leisure
5.2.1. Electronic eyeball camera
5.2.2. Baseball demonstrator of stretchable transistors
5.3. Automotive electronics
5.4. Ultralight solar cells designed to drive drones
5.5. Haptic actuators for consumer and industrial electronics
5.6. Heating circuits
5.7. Light emitting textiles
5.8. Stretchable supercapacitors


6.1. Morphology and geometry
6.2. Basic choices of construction
6.3. Extensibility sought
6.4. Choice of electronic sophistication
6.5. Rigid islands as an option
6.5.1. Nanowire springs - a possible next generation
6.6. Stretchable materials
6.6.1. Example - transparent skin-like pressure sensor
6.6.2. Example - First polymer LED that stays lit up when stretched and scrunched
6.7. Possible stretchable technology evolution
6.8. Printed and stretchable electronics need new design rules


7.1. Stretchable conductors
7.1.1. Options
7.1.2. Stretchable carbon nanotube conductors
7.1.3. Stretchable conductors on textiles
7.2. Stretchable electronic and electrical components
7.2.1. UNIST Korea new transparent, stretchable electrode in 2013
7.2.2. Panasonic stretchable insulating resin film with electronic circuit
7.3. The first fully stretchable OLED
7.4. Energy harvesting
7.4.1. Energy harvesting compared with alternatives
7.4.2. Power requirements of different devices
7.4.3. Harvesting options to meet these requirements
7.4.4. Ubiquitous photovoltaics
7.4.5. Sensor power requirements
7.4.6. Stanford's new stretchable solar cells
7.4.7. Engineers monitor heart health using paper-thin flexible 'skin'
7.4.8. Trend towards multiple energy harvesting
7.4.9. Stretchable capacitive harvesting up to 1 kW?
7.4.10. Timeline
7.5. Stretchable batteries
7.6. Electroactive polymers


8.1. ACREO Sweden
8.2. AIST
8.3. AIST Japan
8.4. Artificial Muscle USA
8.5. Air Force Laboratory USA
8.6. Avery Dennison USA
8.7. Body Media USA
8.8. Cambrios Technologies USA
8.9. Canatu
8.10. East Japan Railway Company Japan
8.11. École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)Switzerland
8.12. Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute ETRI Korea
8.13. Fraunhofer IZM
8.14. French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS France
8.15. Freudenberg Germany
8.16. G24 Innovations UK
8.17. Georgia Institute of Technology USA
8.18. Holst Centre Netherlands
8.19. Idaho National Laboratory USA
8.20. Imec Belgium
8.21. Imperial College UK
8.22. Infinite Corridor Technology ICT
8.23. IntAct USA
8.24. ITRI Taiwan
8.25. Johannes Kepler University Austria
8.26. Korea Electronics Technology Institute Korea
8.27. Lockheed Martin Corporation USA
8.28. Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA
8.29. MC10 USA
8.30. Michigan Technological University USA
8.31. Micromuscle Sweden
8.32. Nokia Research Centre Cambridge UK
8.33. Northwestern University USA
8.34. Palo Alto Research Center PARC USA
8.35. Pelikon UK
8.36. Philips Netherlands
8.37. Physical Optics Corporation USA
8.38. POWERLeap USA
8.39. PowerFilm USA
8.40. Shimmer Research USA
8.41. Simon Fraser University Canada
8.42. Smartex Italy
8.43. Southampton University Hospital UK
8.44. Stevenage Circuits UK
8.45. Stanford University USA
8.46. Sungkyunkwang University Korea
8.47. T-ink
8.48. Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
8.49. Tyndall National Institute Ireland
8.50. University of Cambridge UK
8.51. University of Gent Belgium
8.52. University of Heidelberg Germany
8.53. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign USA
8.54. University of Michigan USA
8.55. University of Pittsburgh USA
8.56. University of Princeton USA
8.57. University of Tokyo
8.58. Uppsala University Sweden
8.59. Urgo France
8.60. Verhaert, Belgium


9.1. Interviews
9.1.1. Accenture USA
9.1.2. Anitra Technologies UG Germany
9.1.3. Antje Paul Knessel Netherlands and Germany
9.1.4. Conductr Canada
9.1.5. Eyeqido Germany
9.1.6. ICE Germany
9.1.7. Intel USA
9.1.8. NanJing KeLiWei Electronic Equipment China
9.1.9. Sony Japan
9.1.10. Sunfriend Corp
9.1.11. SwiftAlarm Germany
9.1.12. ULOCS Sweden
9.2. IDTechEx company profiles
9.2.1. adidas
9.2.2. MC10
9.2.3. Reebok International
9.3. Report on Wearable technology Conference Munich Germany January 2014
9.4. Report on Wearable Tech London March 2014



1.1. Budgetary estimate of sales of truly stretchable electronics globally 2015-2025 $ million
1.2. Some potential benefits and uses of weavable fibers that are inherently electronic or electric, the only modest commercial success being shown in green.
1.3. Possible timeline for inherently electronic/ electrical woven fibers in mass production.
1.4. Examples of smart textiles not reliant on fibers that are inherently electronic or electric.
1.5. The evolution of the physical structure of electronics with the aspects covered in this report - e-textiles and precursor products - highlighted in green.
1.6. Global number of wearable electronic devices in billions 2014-2024
1.7. Ex-factory unit price of wearable electronic devices in US$ 2014-2024 with infotainment showing fastest price erosion continuing past trends
1.8. Global market value of wearable electronic devices in US$ billions 2014-2024
1.9. By applicational sector, the scope 2014 and 2024 and the number of developers and manufacturers driving those figures, largest e-textile potential for the future shown in green, though this is speculative.
1.10. Market value $ billions of only printed electronics 2014-2024
1.11. Market forecasts for 2035 in US$ billion
1.12. Four types of stretchable electronics
1.13. Main uses, actual and envisaged, of the primary forms of printed electronics
1.14. Some potential benefits of printed and partly printed electronics and electrics over conventional devices in various applications with relevance to stretchable electronics
1.15. Examples of leading companies commercialising printed electronics by type
1.16. Leading market drivers 2023
2.1. Types of printed electronics and allied capabilities
3.1. Simple comparison of the two main types of wearable technology with examples. The sub- sector with large value sales expected in next few years is shown in red. The sectors where we expect large sales later in the coming decade ar
3.2. Some failures of wearable electronics with reasons
3.3. Weavable e-fiber projects examined by name, country and functionality/ component
3.4. NPL conductive fabric type vs resistivity
7.1. Energy harvesting compared with alternatives
7.2. Comparison of pn junction and electrophotochemical photovoltaics.
1.1. Budgetary estimate of sales of truly stretchable electronics globally 2015-2025 $ million
1.2. Value market for truly stretchable electronics in 2025 by applicational sector
1.3. Example of smart skin project in 2014 that will need stretchability for 3D conformability Smart skin for aircraft: a project of American Semiconductor with Soligie in 2014 onwards
1.4. How the common terms soft circuits, printed electronics, wearable electronics, smart textiles and e-textiles relate. The term electronics includes electrics
1.5. Evolution expected to occur in many examples of electronics and electrics distributed through textiles
1.6. e-fibers for weaving compared to fiber optics, nanotubes and nanofibers.
1.7. Lumitex woven fiber optic panels
1.8. e-fiber projects by country
1.9. e-fiber projects by function
1.10. The two main types of wearable technology, their typical characteristics (though not all are exhibited by any one realisation) with examples and allied subjects. The Adidas fitness monitoring sports bra at top is comfortable and s
1.11. Global number of wearable electronic devices in billions 2014-2024
1.12. Ex-factory unit price of wearable electronic devices in US$ 2014-2024 with infotainment showing fastest price erosion continuing past trends
1.13. Global market value of wearable electronic devices in US$ billions 2014-2024
1.14. Example of transition envisaged from wearable devices to wearable e-textiles.
1.15. Some of the possibilities from combining the best of disposable and laundry tags on apparel
1.16. Market value $ billions of only printed electronics 2014-2024
1.17. Market forecasts for 2035 in US$ billion
1.18. The unbalanced supply chain for printed electronics
1.19. Categories of printed electronics and the place of stretchable electronics, morphologies and chemistry today in terms of function and commercialisation.
1.20. Nantennas for flexible solar power film
1.21. Leading market drivers 2023
1.22. T-Ink overhead control and lighting cluster in the Ford Fusion car
2.1. Ubiquitous electronics
2.2. Collaboration essential to the new electronics.
2.3. The novel waveguide connects a light source to a detector to make what may be the first truly stretchable optical circuit
2.4. The new optical circuit works when bent around an object about the diameter of a human finger
2.5. Foldable two meter diameter printed AC electroluminescent disco light
2.6. Motion Lighting AC electroluminescent lamps
2.7. Estée Lauder skin patch which electrically accelerates the absorption of cosmetic reducing creases and blotches in the skin.
2.8. Leading forms of printed, flexible sensors and diagnostics
2.9. Pressure sensor matrix
2.10. Large area and high power flexible and stretchable electronics
2.11. Flexible and stretchable volume/ price options
3.1. Some of the more significant technology integration that will be used in wearable electronics 2014-2024
3.2. Conductive yarns compared
3.3. e-textile integration methods
3.4. Washability is a big issue. Suh gives an example of a comparison. Better washability is needed for much of the potentially addressable market
3.5. Liquid versus Solid State DSSCs: A game changing breakthrough?
3.6. Fiber type TCO-less dye sensitized solar cell
3.7. Solar-powered dresses with the technology woven into its fabric
3.8. The fabric strip with conductors and electronic parts such as temperature sensors woven into it
3.9. Textro conductive stretchable yarn by adidas subsidiary Textronics
3.10. Professor Zhong Lin Wang
3.11. Microscope image shows the fibers that are part of the microfiber nanogenerator. The top one is coated with gold
3.12. Schematic shows how pairs of fibers would generate electrical current
3.13. Fibers with piezoelectric and photovoltaic layers
3.14. Flexible piezoelectric fabric
3.15. Fiber nanogenerator on a plastic substrate
3.16. Scanning Electron Microscope SEM image of a bent carbon nanotube coated spider silk fiber.
3.17. "Flare" LED dress powered by wind energy
3.18. Silicon nanowires suitable for thread coating
3.19. Konarka concept of photovoltaic fiber
3.20. Flexible silicon photovoltaics
3.21. Cross-sectional image of the new silicon-based optical fiber
3.22. Seamlessly knitted and woven carbon fiber electrodes.
3.23. Textile supercapacitor
3.24. Stretchable supercapacitor composed of carbon nanotube macrofilms, a polyurethane membrane separator and organic electrolytes
3.25. Integration of PV films into textile
3.26. Powerweave solar airship concept
3.27. Dip method fibre supercapacitor
3.28. Stretchable supercapacitor yarn
3.29. Stanford supercapacitor textile
3.30. Two orthogonal carbon nanotube fiber supercapacitors woven into a textile
3.31. Tsu-Wei Chou (left) with visiting scholar Ping Xu: University of Delaware
3.32. Fibers that can detect and produce sound
3.33. Nanopetal silicon photovoltaics. Color-enhanced scanning electron microscope images show nanosheets resembling tiny rose petals
3.34. Polytechnic School of Montreal Canada has developed flexible woven batteries
3.35. Flexible woven touchpad
3.36. Elastic polymer that was cut in two and healed overnight
3.37. Carbon nanotube forest
3.38. Potentially e-textile transistor
3.39. NASA woven memory
4.1. Active monitoring hardware
4.2. Barbing blanket
4.3. Animal brain map taken using stretchable electronics during seizure
4.4. Epidermal stretchable electronics
4.5. Heart harvester design
4.6. Heart harvester in action
4.7. Electronics on Balloons: Instrumented Surgical Catheters
4.8. Urgo band aid demonstrator for pressure measurement undercompression garments.
4.9. Flexible silicon skin
4.10. Integrated stretchable Ruler in SCB design
4.11. Shoe insole for monitoring those with diabetes
4.12. Stretchable supercapacitor yarn
4.13. Body Area Network
4.14. Body monitoring with telemetry
4.15. Innovative body sensor that can be worn by users to remotely gather physiological data
5.1. Stretchable watch made with rigid components and laser cut stretchable metal interconnect
5.2. Stretchable LED array using conventional rigid LEDs that works under water
5.3. Eyeball camera
5.4. Flexible and stretchable thin film transistor array covering a baseball
5.5. Kuniharu Takei, Toshitake Takahashi and Ali Javey at the microscope electric probe station used to characterize flexible and stretchable backplanes for e-skin and other electronic devices.
5.6. Car compartment demonstrator
5.7. Lightweight 'solar foil'
5.8. Pelikon haptic touch actuator
5.9. A printed heating circuit in STELLA-SPB-Technology by FNM
5.10. Light emitting textile
5.11. University of Delaware professors Tsu-Wei Chou and Bingqing Wei have successfully developed a compact, stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitor
6.1. Primary morphologies of stretchable electronics today
6.2. Skin extensibility map
6.3. Mechanical properties of typical materials used in stretchable electronics
6.4. Mechanical architecture of stretchable electronics
6.5. Silicon nanowire spring
6.6. Limited 3D "trampoline" stretchability with islands
6.7. Meander pattern for trampoline testing
6.8. Stanford ultra-stretchy skin-like pressure sensor
6.9. Possible evolution of stretchable electronics
6.10. Early cars borrowed the body styles and chassis construction of horse-drawn vehicles.
6.11. Bluespark printed manganese dioxide zinc battery supporting integral antenna and interconnects
7.1. Peeling sticker to make spring
7.2. Stretchable carbon nanotube conductors
7.3. Conductive pattern printed on a non-woven textile
7.4. Gold electrodes on silicone skin wrapped around a table corner
7.5. The new form of stretchable electronics
7.6. Panasonic stretchable resin film
7.7. Stretchable OLED
7.8. Harvesting options by power level
7.9. Power requirements of small electronic products including Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and the types of battery employed
7.10. Microsensor power budget
7.11. Power density provided by different forms of energy harvesting
7.12. Stanford stretchable photovoltaics.
7.13. Professor Zhenan Bao
7.14. Flexible, skin-like heart monitor
7.15. MATFLEXEND basics compared to traditional capacitive harvesting
7.16. Partners
7.17. Capacitive harvesting the new way
7.18. Potential for high energy
7.19. Electrode options
7.20. Elastomer harvester details
7.21. Other applications
7.22. Timeline for widespread deployment of energy harvesting
7.23. Artificial Muscle original business plan
7.24. Artificial Muscle's actuator
8.1. Distribution of profiles by country
8.2. Transparent photovoltaic film
8.3. ViviTouch by Artificial Muscle Inc
8.4. Solar sail made of printed Dye Sensitised Solar Cells DSSC that can be furled
8.5. Nantennas
8.6. Bulk nantennas
8.7. Human sensor networks
8.8. ICT stretchable printed circuit board
8.9. ICT wearable electronics
8.10. Morph concept
8.11. Flexible & Changing Design
8.12. Concept device based on reduce, reuse recycle envisages many forms of energy harvesting
8.13. Carrying strap provides power to the sensor unit
8.14. An optical image of an electronic device in a complex deformation mode
8.15. Pelikon haptic, light emitting keyboard that changes for different purposes.
8.16. PowerFilm literature
8.17. Knee-Mounted Device Generates Electricity While You Walk
8.18. Heart harvester developed at Southampton University Hospital
8.19. Stretchable graphene transistors
8.20. Transmitter left and implanted receiver right for inductively powered implantable dropped foot stimulator for stroke victims
8.21. Surveillance bat
8.22. Sensor head on COM-BAT
8.23. Stretchable wireless sensor on knee
9.1. Wearable technology value chain and issues
9.2. EnOcean conclusions
9.3. Forms of wearable today
9.4. Trend of healthcare
9.5. Nick Hunn slides
9.6. Samsung and ST Microelectronics slides
9.7. Texas Instruments slides
9.8. Qualcomm and Bosch slides
9.9. Roche Accu-Check

Date of Publication:
Jan 20, 2016
File Format:
PDF via E-mail
Number of Pages:
303 Pages