Textiles, too, can be intelligent
Intelligent textiles can protect workers, liven up stadiums, simplify traveling on public transport and gather valuable data. Dynavisual is constantly developing new products to present various types of information visually.
"Who would have predicted that at my age, I would launch another startup," says Josef Mathis, sitting in the office of his newest company, Dynavisual, which is located on the outskirts of the Swiss town of Zug. But anyone who knows Mathis, an entrepreneur who is constantly pursuing new challenges, is unlikely to be surprised. He founded his first company, SSZ AG, 28 years ago with the basic idea of developing products to protect people as well as material goods. The target group was the police.
Some of SSZ's business areas and patents subsequently gave rise to additional companies. Dynavisual was founded at the end of 2019. It specializes in smart textiles, which have broad applications in such areas as fashion, medicine, sports, entertainment and, of course, security – the main focus of most of Josef Mathis's businesses.
Who would have predicted that at my age, I would launch another startup.
Like the canary in the coal mine
The first product is already market-ready – an armband with much the same function as the canary in the coal mine had years ago. When the canary lost consciousness and fell from its perch, the miners knew that it was time to leave the mine. The armband serves a similar purpose, and no birds are harmed in the process. Workers who are exposed to high temperatures can wear this armband, with a sensor that measures various vital signs. It communicates with the sensor to show the worker's level of heat stress, once a defined threshold has been reached. If the level is elevated, the armband turns red or orange, indicating to the employee and his fellow workers that action is needed to prevent an accident. "This product is the first of its kind in the world," says Mathis with obvious pride.
He has collaborated for many years with the engineer who developed the patent. "My network and my employees' expertise are great advantages," he says. In addition, as an established entrepreneur he has the financial resources to launch new companies. "Younger startup founders don't have that advantage, of course," he observes.
An instant hit and a promising future
However, Mathis wants his companies to be able to stand on their own as quickly as possible. He is pleased that the Swiss Accident Insurance Institution is funding a study that will use his company's armband. "This product has been successful early on," says Mathis.
When it comes to possible applications for his company's patents, Josef Mathis and his team have many other ideas. They are currently working on the prototype of a shirt for sports fans that will integrate spectators into the stadium's entertainment. "A major advantage of intelligent textiles is that they make it possible to process data," says Mathis. This is another significant benefit for applications in the areas of public transport or medicine, for example. Data analysis yields valuable information that can be used to develop or improve products.
Josef Mathis is confident that smart textiles have enormous potential for the future. "The question with every new product is whether the market will accept it." Dynavisual's strategy is first to establish its products in Switzerland, but Mathis and his team are already looking beyond the country's borders. In that context, they plan to take advantage of their network of international companies headquartered in Switzerland.