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Scientists Develop ‘Smart’ Fabric That Can Monitor and Transmit Biomedical Info on Wearers

Discovery could be boon for patients with chronic diseases

Researchers at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, have developed “smart” textiles able to monitor and transmit the wearer’s biomedical information via wireless or cellular networks.

The technological breakthrough, described in the journal Sensors, clears the way for a host of new developments for people with chronic diseases, for elderly people living alone, and even for firemen and police officers, the authors say.

The “smart” fabric was created by superimposing multiple layers of copper, polymers, glass, and silver.

“The fiber acts as both sensor and antenna. It is durable but malleable, and can be woven with wool or cotton. And signal quality is comparable to commercial antennas,” explained lead investigator Professor Younès Messaddeq.

The surface of the fiber can also be adjusted to monitor a range of information, such as glucose levels, heart rhythm, brain activity, movements, and spatial coordinates.

A patent application has been filed, although certain elements need to be fine-tuned before the fabric is ready for commercialization.

“Of course, the technology will have to be connected to a wireless network, and there is the issue of power supply to be solved,” Messaddeq noted. “We have tested a number of solutions, and the results are promising. We will also have to make sure the fabric is robust and can stand up to chemicals found in laundry detergent.”

Source: EurekAlert; December 3, 2014.

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