Engineers developing 'smart clothes' that can monitor your health

·2-min read

Forget about your Fitbit and other wearable devices - engineers are now developing "smart clothes" that can monitor your health.

Engineers at Purdue University in Indiana have developed a new spray/sewing method to transform conventional cloth garments into battery-free wearables that can be cleaned in a washing machine. These smart clothes are powered by WiFi through a flexible, silk-based coil sewn on the textile.

According to the university's press release, everybody's clothes will become smart in the future and they will outperform existing passive garments "thanks to their miniaturized electronic circuits and sensors, which will allow you to seamlessly communicate with your phone, computer, car and other machines".

In addition, smart clothing could check on your health status, make you more productive and even make a call for help if you're in an accident.

"By spray-coating smart clothes with highly hydrophobic molecules, we are able to render them repellent to water, oil and mud," explained Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor in Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering. "These smart clothes are almost impossible to stain and can be used underwater and washed in conventional washing machines without damaging the electronic components sewn on their surface."

Purdue's smart clothes remain as flexible and breathable as conventional cotton T-shirts and are powered by harvesting energy from WiFi and radio waves in the surrounding environment. This technology can be made in large-scale traditional sewing factories, meaning their method could accelerate the development and sale of smart clothes.

"Such wearable devices, powered by ubiquitous Wi-Fi signals, will make us not only think of clothing as just a garment that keeps us warm but also as wearable tools designed to help us in our daily life, monitor our health and protect us from accidents," Martinez said. "I envision smart clothes will be able to transmit information about the posture and motion of the wearer to mobile apps, allowing machines to understand human intent without the need of other interfaces, expanding the way we communicate, interact with devices, and play video games."

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