Intelligent textiles keep track of your health
European scientists have come together for a common cause – to develop clothing which they claim will be capable of monitoring a person’s health. Dubbed the “intelligent textile” (no, it isn’t smart enough to do your homework for you – yet), the finished product will be used to look up different groups such as recovering hospital patients, folks who have been afflicted with chronic illnesses, and injured athletes. Funded partly by the European Union, the Biotex program as it is known will pool together the knowledge and expertise of researchers from eight different institutions. To date, a prototype multi-sensor test patch is already being finalized and will be ready soon, while the next step involves getting a group of volunteers to try out this experimental fabric. According to project co-coordinator Jean Luprano from Swiss-based CSEM, these sensors have been built and tested in the lab, with the integration into textile patches going underway.
It won’t be long before a multi-sensor patch is produced, giving the researchers a chance to sense several elements of the human body in parallel. The final version is hoped to monitor sweat by simply measuring acidity, salinity, and the perspiration rate. Of course, future iterations of the Biotex program will include the capability of picking up the body’s vital signs, assessing the progress of wound healing, as well as spotting illnesses and infections at an early stage simply by pinpointing abnormalities in metabolism. Does this sound as though we no longer need any more doctors and nurses? Definitely not, but at least it makes their job a whole lot easier by doing all the initial work for them, while keeping track of their recovery progress without having a nurse check up on a patient every few hours.
This intelligent fabric still won’t replace traditional medical diagnostic methods though, but it sure as heck is a practical method of collecting data even when nobody is around. I wonder how this fabric would do in the washer…