Garments that measure the heart rate have been on the market for some time. Made of intelligent textiles, those sensors stand out over other solutions with their excellent wearability, they are soft as textiles are.
Textile based sensors provide a much higher wearing comfort: everything you need to to is to put on a shirt. No need to wire yourself up with sensor patches, no need to hook yourself up to electrodes or straps. That’s a big comfort plus for anyone and any profession in need to watch out of the body performance and body conditions.
BIOTEX, a European sponsored research project which is set up to develop biochemical-sensing techniques and their integration into textiles adds a new dimension to bio-textile-sensor technology: analyzing body fluids via textile sensors.
One of the first textile fluid sensors could be a textile patch analyzing a tiny drop of sweat which can provide a much better assessment of someone’s health compared to a ‘heart rate only’ monitoring. As more data collected as more accurate the overall assessment will be.
The sweat sensor uses a combination of hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) yarns. Those two yarns can be woven to direct the sweat through fabric channels to a sensor area. It is a passive system that uses no power and so reducing the power demands of the BIOTEX system.
Analyzing sweat can tell a lot about the stress level, the lack off essential elements in our body and our overall performance status. Think about making a long run, you need to refill your body with energy (drink) to stay on course or else ….
Another application of the BIOTEX textile sensor includes a pH detection which could be combined with a color changing (phase shifting) textile indicating visually on a shirt or patient gown if the body needs attention (before you drop to the ground in which case you won’t need any sensor to tell).
A hopefully not so distant future will bring us smart clothes embedded with numerous sensors which constantly monitor our vital signs. If your body reaches exhaustion levels the garment is programmed to send you a text message telling you to take it easy 😉