MIT Developed Sensors Woven Into Fabrics So a Shirt Can Monitor Vital Signs

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woven into fabrics
woven into fabrics

MIT Developed Sensors Woven Into Fabrics So a Shirt Can Monitor Vital Signs

MIT Developed Sensors Woven Into Fabrics So a Shirt Can Monitor Vital SignsComfortable, form-fitting garments could be used to remotely track patients’ health.

MIT researchers have developed a way to incorporate electronic sensors into stretchy fabrics, allowing them to create shirts or other garments that could be used to monitor vital signs such as temperature, respiration, and heart rate.

The sensor-embedded garments, which are machine washable, can be customized to fit close to the body of the person wearing them. The researchers envision that this type of sensing could be used for monitoring people who are ill, either at home or in the hospital, as well as athletes or astronauts.

“We can have any commercially available electronic parts or custom lab-made electronics embedded within the textiles that we wear every day, creating conformable garments,” says Canan Dagdeviren, the LG Electronics Career Development Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. “These are customizable, so we can make garments for anyone who needs to have some physical data from their body like temperature, respiration rate, and so forth.”

Dagdeviren is the senior author of a paper describing the new material in the journal npg Flexible Electronics. MIT graduate student Irmandy Wicaksono is the lead author of the study. Several MIT undergraduates also contributed to the study through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Embedded sensors

Other research groups have developed thin, skin-like patches that can measure temperature and other vital signs, but these are delicate and must be taped to the skin. Dagdeviren’s Conformable Decoders group at the Media Lab set out to create garments more similar to the clothes we normally wear, using a stretchy fabric that has removable electronic sensors incorporated into it.

“In our case, the textile is not electrically functional. It’s just a passive element of our garment so that you can wear the devices comfortably and conformably during your daily activities,” Dagdeviren says. “Our main goal was to measure the physical activity of the body in terms of temperature, respiration, acceleration, all from the same body part, without requiring any fixture or any tape.”

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