Researchers weave sensor array into stretchable garments

April 23, 2020 //By Julien Happich
sensor array
Aiming to deliver a universal platform for networked sensors on textiles, researchers from MIT have demonstrated customizable conformable electronics including interconnect lines and off-the-shelf integrated circuits embedded within plastic substrates that can be woven into knitted textiles.

Publishing their results in the npg Flexible Electronics journal under the title “A tailored, electronic textile conformable suit for large-scale spatiotemporal physiological sensing in vivo”, the researchers showcase a so-called electronic textile conformable suit (E-TeCS), in effect a novel type of compression garment allowing intimate contact between electronics and the skin, with temperature sensors and accelerometers distributed throughout the entire garment. They also demonstrated such an E-TeCS can be used for distributed, wireless physiological sensing, such as temperature, respiration and heart-rate detection, and physical activity monitoring around the wearer during a physical exercise.

The sensor-embedded garments, which are machine washable, can be customized to fit close to the body of the person wearing them. The researchers envision that this type of sensing could be used for monitoring people who are ill, either at home or in the hospital, as well as athletes or astronauts.

“We can have any commercially available electronic parts or custom lab-made electronics embedded within the textiles that we wear every day, creating conformable garments,” says Canan Dagdeviren, the LG Electronics Career Development Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. “These are customizable, so we can make garments for anyone who needs to have some physical data from their body like temperature, respiration rate, and so forth.”

Concept of the spatiotemporal sensor mapping of the body with temperature and accelerometer (heart beat and respiration) embedded in garment (a). The flexible-stretchable electronic strips are embedded in textile channels (b). Inset (c) show an exploded view of a sensor island.

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