A New Wave of Wearable Sensorsadmin
Researchers have released a new study, recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, unveiling a new “fiber optic material that can be produced quickly and then woven, knit, or embroidered into existing fabrics, forming flexible, wearable sensors that seamlessly integrate into clothes.” Even more impressively – it’s also machine washable.
Traditional sensors have a tendency to create friction, which is a main cause of irritation. “Detecting early changes in skin through perfusion, oxygen saturation values, and pressure on tissue and subsequent therapeutic intervention could increase patients’ quality of life drastically. However, most existing sensing options create additional risk of ulcer development due to further pressure on and chafing of the skin.”
By embroidering the sensor right into the fabric, however, the friction is minimized.
Two different polymers are melt-spun into a fiber optic thread. One is a coating and the other is a fiber optic polymer that is capable of transmitting light over long distances. The researchers embroidered this thread into the fabric of a simple knit hat. They then compared the heart rate measured through the prototype sensor to a conventional fingertip heartbeat sensor. Both sensors had similar readings.
This study is part of a larger project to develop sensors that can monitor health signs in paraplegic patients, “who often run into problems with traditional sensors which can rub against the skin and eventually form sores.”