These “carbon nanotube threads”, also known as EKG monitoring devices, work in a similar way to wires that measure heart rhythms and detect abnormalities. But instead of having to be patched onto the skin, they can be sewn into a t-shirt and worn like normal athletic wear, according to a new study from researches at a Rice University Brown School of Engineering lab. They claim that the threads are flexible and can be worn multiple times without breaking down, unlike wires.
Although it is still a long way off, this material may eventually replace heavy EKG Holter monitors used in hospitals and in heart-rate monitoring watches.
“Another interesting application of this technology is that we can use them for next-generation military uniforms,” Lauren Taylor, a Rice University graduate student and lead author of the study, said in a video about the product. We can use the material as an antenna to track military personnel’s location.
Worldwide spending on wearable devices is expected to grow 18% to $81.5 billion in 2021, and another 15% in 2022, according to Gartner. Many technology companies invest in similar technologies in devices. Apple’s Watch, which introduced heart rate monitoring and added medical functions in 2018, and Google’s (GOOGL GOOGLE), plans to purchase FitBit in 2019.
Rice University’s lab developed the first carbon nanotube fiber. It was studied in medical procedures such as cochlear implant for hearing loss, and heart repair. The original filaments, which were approximately 22 microns in width, could not be used on a regular sewing machine at that time.
Researchers teamed up with a rope maker to create a fabric similar to ordinary sewing thread, which could then be used to make athletic clothing. According to the study, this smart shirt is able to transmit continuous and non-invasive electrocardiogram readings. It is worth noting, however that the existing EKG monitors are now quite comfortable and non-intrusive.
Researchers believe that apparel made with these fibers may eventually track vital signs.
However, the “smart shirt” doesn’t come without wires. The shirt’s nanotube fibers transmit information via Bluetooth technology to the computer.
Oliver Dewy from the research team stated that it is difficult to find thread-like, soft materials that can be used for construction. He said that it can either be made into a bridge or a powerline. Nothing else works like it.”
Publited at Fri, 3 Sep 2021 11:58:33 +0000