Japan’s NTT DoCoMo has partnered with chemical company Toray Industries to develop Hitoe, a nanofibre-laced clothing line that uses conductive fibres to measure heart rate.
Hitoe, which means ‘one layer’ in the Japanese language, is a kind of new material that can double as health sensors. It is designed to be less time-consuming and invasive than an electrocardiogram (ECG) test.
By connecting the current health apps that DoCoMo already has on its smartphones, the new clothing can act as electrodes, and measure the wearer’s heartbeat and also offer metrics and visuals similar to an ECG. At the same time, the new clothing is durable enough to withstand washing and rugged use.
In a press statement, NTT DoCoMo said it would aim to release smartphone-linked Hitoe clothing this year. The company is expanding into nursing care as well as its current healthcare-related services portfolio with the data collected through the devices.
The new wearable technology is likely to be more useful to runners and athletes, but it would be useful to others as well as Hitoe would also include sleepwear and casual wear.
In 2013, DoCoMo Healthcare unveiled two services aimed at linking health info with smartphones.