Home / Knowledge / News / Textiles / Smart fabrics make clever (medical) clothing

Smart fabrics make clever (medical) clothing

25
Nov '08
European researchers have developed a smart fabric that can monitor muscular overload and help prevent repetitive strain injury or RSI. But that is just the beginning. The team is also exploring a pregnancy belt to monitor baby's heartbeat, clothing to help coach hockey, and shirts that monitor muscle fatigue during training.

Smart fabrics promise to revolutionise clothing by incorporating sensors into cloth for health, lifestyle and business applications. In the long term, they could consist of circuits and sensors that provide all of the typical electronics we carry around today, like mobile phones and PDAs.

Current, first-generation applications are far more modest, and pioneering medical smart fabrics are used to monitor vital signs like heart rate and temperature. But two crucial hurdles – unobtrusiveness and reliability – impede widespread adoption of such clever clothes.

Now one European research team has developed groundbreaking medical-sensing smart fabrics, and its work could lead to pregnancy monitoring belts, sports clothing that provides training tips, a wearable physical game controller, and a vest that helps to prevent repetitive strain injury.

The Context project initially sought to develop an RSI vest to tackle a serious work safety issue. Repetitive actions can, over time, lead to permanent injury and the problem costs billions of euros a year. It affects over 40 million workers across the continent and is responsible for 50 percent of all work-related ill-health.

Muscle contraction, the very quiet metric
The team had to tackle three challenging problems. First, they were using a relatively novel sensor that demanded sophisticated electronics located in the clothing. Second, they were aiming to measure muscle contraction, a very 'quiet metric'. Third, they were venturing on a research path seldom trod: muscle contraction as a predictor for stress. Long-term, low-key stress is the leading risk factor for RSI.

“Each of the issues was very difficult. We chose to use a capacitative sensor, because it does not need to be attached to the skin, like resistive sensors do, which adds to the comfort. It needs controlling electronics close to the sensor to work effectively, and that presents a real challenge for textile integration,” explains Bas Feddes, Context's coordinator.

Similarly, measuring electromyography, or electrical activity in the muscle, is more subtle and tricky than electrocardiography, which measures the heart. The rustle of clothing caused by movement can drown out the signal.

Context has gone a long way to solving that problem but it is not as robust as they would like.

Finally, medical understanding of muscle stress as a predictor for RSI is not a mature field of research, so it is difficult to say with certainty that specific activities could lead to RSI.

Despite these hurdles, the team successfully designed an RSI vest, and they are currently improving its reliability.


Must ReadView All

Pic: Shutterstock

Textiles | On 24th Sep 2020

IDH-Apparel Impact Institute launch Tier 1 Vietnam project

The Netherlands-based IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative and the...

Pic: UC SANTA BARBARA

Textiles | On 24th Sep 2020

US scientists assess synthetic fibres pollution on land

Scientists in the US have said that the volume of synthetic...

Pic: Bushell Investment Group

Retail | On 24th Sep 2020

Bushell Investment Group acquires shoe retailer ALDO UK

The Bushell Investment Group (BIG) has acquired the UK arm of the...

Interviews View All

Top executives, Fabric manufacturers

Top executives
Fabric manufacturers

Domestic manufacturers would get an edge over imported products

Top executives, Machinery Company

Top executives
Machinery Company

We will promote latest technologies at ITMA Barcelona

Top executives, Textile industry

Top executives
Textile industry

Sri Lanka has a good sustainable track record and strong stories to back it

Simon Daplyn,

Simon Daplyn

Switzerland-based Sensient Imaging Technologies is a pioneer with a global ...

Davide Maccabruni,

Davide Maccabruni

Schärer Schweiter Mettler (SSM) manufactures and supplies textile...

Dr. Vijaya Kumar,

Dr. Vijaya Kumar

Dr MM Kariappa founded the Vogue Institute of Art & Design in 1996....

Mark Brill, Birmingham City University (BCU)

Mark Brill
Birmingham City University (BCU)

<div>A technological breakthrough could see people getting messages about...

Lynda Kelly, Suominen Corporation

Lynda Kelly
Suominen Corporation

Suominen Corporation is a manufacturer of nonwovens as roll goods for...

Isabel Herranz, European School of Business & innovation

Isabel Herranz
European School of Business & innovation

Cutting-edge ideas like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence ...

Sweta Agarwal, A Humming Way

Sweta Agarwal
A Humming Way

A Humming Way (AHW) is inspired by the old-world regalia of Rajasthan...

Wendell Rodricks, Wendell Rodricks

Wendell Rodricks
Wendell Rodricks

"We should not compare India and the West. There are things we do that...

Pranav Mishra, Huemn

Pranav Mishra
Huemn

Designers Pranav Mishra and Shyma Shetty’s Huemn is known for its...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


editorial@fibre2fashion.com

Letter To Editor






(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies





SEARCH

Leave your Comments


September 2020

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.


Advanced Search