The benefits of wearable technologies to add functions to clothing for therapeutic use will are huge. For a starter, integrating monitoring function into clothing without altering the wear comfort enables patients to be more independent from stationary observations.
This in turn reduces the need for hospitals to provide space and personnel who otherwise have to look after, to care for stationary patients.
Too often i hear the argument that such technology enhanced clothing is too expensive when compared to the very simple hospital gowns used today. That is fully correct, but it does not compare apple to apple.
When comparing costs one have to take into account not only the cost of hospital gowns but also the cost a patient will incur for occupying a bed and the care giving costs. Costs that are not directly related to the monitoring function but are costs to serve the purpose of monitoring. Such cost are rather high as anyone can confirm who has had to unfortunate event of staying in a hospital.
Another highly interesting area is the preventive action technology enhanced clothing can provide for people with early symptoms. Better to start at early stage to counter act then to end up one day with costly ‘repair’.
Technology that is seamless and unobtrusive integrated in everyday garment can be use more discrete than very technical looking aids as they are often used today and out of this reason rejected by many.
One such example is the Posture Sensing Shirt. It alerts the wearer of improper posture to help prevent neck, back, and shoulder pain. As many of us spend more time in a chair behind computers it is difficult to maintain a healthy sitting position and most of us ‘slouch off’ over time.
The shirt has an electronic sensor attached that detects the increased tension in the shirt’s built-in micro-filaments and vibrates once the posture is not optimal.
Unfortunately this product is not anymore available. A similar design concept we posted about 2 years ago seems did not make it to a commercial product either.
Why do hospital managements and insurance companies not see the whole picture and take the real costs into account when assessing wearable technologies for therapeutic applications?