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Gloves to monitor health stats? Amazing!
Sep '08
Markus Rothmaier
Markus Rothmaier
We are all aware of usefulness of gloves. Aren't WE?

But ever imagined, wearing a glove to monitor your vital health statistics?

Yes! Markus Rothmaier of the Laboratory for Protection and Physiology has made it possible.

Rothmaier, a research scientist at Material Science and Technology (EMPA), along with researchers of the University Hospital Zurich (Switzerland), Department of Neonatology, got together to make this unimaginable happen.

Markus and his team started working about 2 years ago. The inspiration came from present method of measuring oxygenation and pulse rate in the hospital (especially in the newborn section).

In an exclusive interview with Fibre2fashion, Markus Rothmaier, discussed about the amazing glove that will bring revolution in the medical world and said, “We would like to integrate sensors into wearable devices to monitor humans, babies, newborns, patients 24 hours when needed. Higher comfort through textile approach is our objective. Fiber optical sensors are widely used today, but their interface to the human body is unhandy.”

While detailing about the working of these gloves, the Researcher said, “Pulse oximeters measure pulse rate (heart beats) and arterial blood oxygenation (SpO2). Pulsating blood changes the light absorbance of e.g. finger tip - result: pulse waves. When pulse waves are measured at different wavelengths SpO2 calculation (oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin has a different color) is possible.

“The glove has a light emitting and a light receiving textile integrated. They are attached at the forefinger tip position (opposite to each other). One illuminates the tip (the light source is not inside the glove; we use an external device now), the other one collects the transmitted light (through the human tissue) and delivers it to a detector (also an external device).

Rothmaier further stated, "The glove is not the major point of the invention. It is just handy in a laboratory environment. It can fix the textile light emitter/receiver snugly in the right spot (the finger tip). Our goal is however to have the sensor in a textile-based fabric later (shirt, headband, cap). We are not competing with available oximeters (finger tip), we look for new wearable applications.”

Plastic optical fibres are used since more than 40 years, mainly in data and telecom applications (as an substitute material to glass). Also woven textiles, containing these fibers, are known since the early 70s - but their employment was in fashion, design, architecture mainly. Medical textiles with optical fibers are rather new. Fabrics can be woven, embroidered, knitted and so on.

Talking about the commercial production of these gloves Marcus said that they are looking for partners now who would be interested in the technology (which can be integrated not only into gloves).

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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