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Smart shirt collects body data

Posted: 25 Jun 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart shirt  Internet of Things  sensor  ECG 

Imec Institute and its affiliate the Holst Center in the Netherlands launched an Internet of Things programme and a low-power air quality sensor as its first licensable product at the annual ITF event in Brussels, Belgium. But one wearable device stole the limelight at the event: a smart shirt with removable electronics.

The T-shirt is the latest of several wearable products developed by researchers at Imec and Holst. Their related Intuitive Internet of Things programme focuses on small, cheap, low power sensing and connectivity products often packed into a single chip.

The T-shirt uses flexible conductive silver traces to link electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors to control electronics packaged into a board the size of an SD card. The card can be removed so the shirt can be washed.

The card is based on a so-called MUSEIC SoC from Imec. The 180nm chip includes an analogue front end and ECG, EEG and galvanic skin response sensors as well as an Arm Cortex M0 processor. It is a follow on to a multi-sensor SoC Imec designed for Samsung's Simband.

The card weighs 7g, including a button-cell battery and uses an off-the-shelf Bluetooth LE chip to stream body data to a smartphone and from there to the cloud. Imec sees uses for the T-shirt that range from sports training to health care.

Smart shirt

The Imec/Holst smart shirt puts electronics in a removable SD card that slots into plastic pouch linked to flexible interconnects and sensors.

"We want to extend the functionality of smart garments and deliver medical-grade data through looser, everyday clothes," said Ruben de Francisco, a programme manager for wearable health products at Imec and Holst.

The shirt is designed as a platform to which OEMs could add sensors such as ones tracking breath rate or dehydration. LED indicators or haptics could also be added to give feedback to users. The shirt is designed to be compatible with existing textile production processes.

Some start-ups are focusing on smart clothes, particularly for athletes, expecting to see electronics disappear into the shirts and socks and hoping that more companies pitch in to establish the nascent category. the U.S. Open last year, ball boys sported Polo Tech smart shirts designed by Ralph Lauren.

Tennis fans attending the US Open this year in New York may have a reason to give the ball boys a second look. Several of them will be sporting the latest in wearable technology—Polo Tech smart shirts designed by Ralph Lauren.


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