Intelligent textiles not only enable the design of fashionable, interactive outfits to show (off) but can add great value to the health care sector, an area I have repeatedly highlighted as one of the potential applications for wearable technologies.
Joseph Wang and his colleagues at the University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA integrate by screen printing the sensors directly on the elastic waist band on underpants which allow the constant monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate around the wait area.
The sensors pick up the weak electrical signals generated each time of our heart pumps blood around the body. To get reliable detection of these weak signals the sensors have to be placed firmly against the skin.
The elastic band on underpants provide a secure, firm contact with the skin by using the ‘natural’ properties and function of these elastic bands without adding any discomfort.
Durability tests carried out revealed that the stresses associated with everyday wear, such as the folding or stretching of the clothing, did not affect the sensor performance.
In the pipeline is the development of enzyme sensors for ethanol and lactate that could be used to monitor alcohol levels in drivers or stress levels in soldiers or athletes.
Smart, Intelligent underwear for medical or performance monitoring purpose are the most sensible, most obvious applications for smart textiles. I just wonder why there is so little commercial activity around this area as this and many other research and development activities seem not that difficult to carry from the academic level to the production floor.
[source: Printed Electronic World]