Patient monitoring, nanotechnology, communications technology  

SmartShirt for remotely monitoring human vital signs

18 May 2006

Bethesda Md., USA. The SmartShirt from Sensatex  can remotely monitor a wearer's movement, heart rate, and respiration rate in real-time through a patented nanotechnology conductive fibre grid that is seamlessly knit into the material of the fully washable shirt.

The Beta Sensatex SmartShirt makes it possible to remotely monitor a wearer's movement, heart rate, and respiration rate in real-time. (PRNewsFoto/ Sensatex, Inc.)
The Beta Sensatex SmartShirt makes it possible to remotely monitor a wearer's movement, heart rate, and respiration rate in real-time. (PRNewsFoto/ Sensatex, Inc.)

"Today, wearable technology is science, not science fiction," Robert Kalik, Chief Executive Officer of Sensatex, said. "Following a series of successful tests with first responders and the subsequent development of a seamless knit shirt integrating a conductive fibre system to wirelessly carry physiological signals from the body, Sensatex is ready to begin research and reliability studies using the SmartShirt System in a broad range of applications."

Possible uses for the system include home health monitoring for the elderly, observing outpatients in post-operative and chronic illness situations, training support for athletes, remote monitoring for first responders, hazard materials workers, and soldiers in the field, and watching professional truck drivers' vital signs to alert them of fatigue.

"Having a reliable way to monitor vital signs in real-time for those with hazardous duty missions would be a tremendous asset," William Earle, former Chief Financial Officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, said. "There are innumerable ways the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security could integrate this system to create and maintain a more secure working environment for their first line responders."

After more than five years of research and development, the SmartShirt System is the first application of Sensatex's multiple textile patents. The light, breathable, cotton fabric has fully integrated conductive fibres that create connectivity to acquire and transfer analogue physiological signals to a small personal controller. The controller digitizes the data signals and wirelessly transmits them to a remote location where the data is received for monitoring. The system was developed to interface with wireless communication systems using ZigBee technology so that data can be transmitted to virtually any back-end system, and designed so that it is not necessary to have a trained technician present to send or receive data.

Unlike similar products, only the Sensatex SmartShirt System combines innovative technologies in the textile, wireless, and biomedical engineering fields. Field testing of the SmartShirt System is planned for later this year. Sensatex is also testing a one-lead EKG band and a SmartBra that would employ the same system to remotely monitor vital signs and plans to add other sensor capabilities in the future.

"Health care continues to be a critical issue -- from infant mortality rates through to care of the elderly," Dr. Frank Young, Chairman of the Cosmos Alliance and former Commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said. "The Sensatex platform offers ways to monitor vital signs literally from birth to death, and gives health care professionals early warning of abnormalities and access to the data they need to make smart decisions for their patients. These vital functions can be measured even if their patients are miles away."

Early research for the SmartShirt System was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG). Sensatex's six licensed U.S. patents on conductive fibre usage, developed by Georgia Tech, illustrate the novel design for intelligence capability and information infrastructure of the SmartShirt System.

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