Smart Fabrics Monitor Physiological Signs

The Zephyr Company, based in New-Zealand, has developed advanced fabrics that can monitor physiological signs. The company’s Smart Fabric technology is based on sensors that are woven into a person’s clothes and can gather and transmit real-time physiological data, such as vital signs or other biomechanical information. Combining wireless connectivity and graphical diagnostic tools, Zephyr developed flexible sensors that are capable of detecting and measuring displacement, distance, force, strain and various other relevant data. The information can either be stored or immediately transferred to a nearby computer for analysis.
 Zephyr’s BioHarness USB (Credit: Zephyr)
Zephyr’s BioHarness USB (Credit: Zephyr)

Zephyr’s sensors can collect and wirelessly transmit information regarding heart beat, respiratory patterns, temperature, posture, breathing rate and electrocardiogram (ECG). Some of Zephyr’s products were recently presented at the CeBit 2007 exhibition in Hannover, Germany. The company’s BioHarness, a light piece of circular fabric, which can be worn around the chest, is able to provide comprehensive bio telemetry data, enabling field-based research into human performance and conditions. The device can perform accurate analysis in extreme movement environments, making it suitable for athletes who wish to evaluate their performance during training sessions. “The BioHarness provides medical professionals and athletes with the tools to quantify cardiovascular and respiratory performance. Entire teams or groups can be evaluated during field trials.” – said Zephyr Chief Executive Brian Russell.

Another product demonstrated in Hannover was the ShoePod – a thin insole that is placed in the shoe and monitors the user’s footfalls over time.and the ShoePod can arrive to conclusions about the user’s level of fatigue, posture and technique by analyzing data such as center of pressure, foot timing and force. Systems such as this can provide valuable information to medical professionals, coaches, and to the patients. The company has also developed a specialized ShoePodDiabetic, which acts as an early warning system for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), by monitoring and detecting foot ulceration.

According to recent reports, Zephyr has signed a contract with the U.S. military to apply the BioHarness to soldiers’ uniforms. The device will enable the instantaneous transmission of information regarding soldiers’ health conditions to their senior officers and medical staff. But not only soldiers cab benefit from the company’s products. Firefighters can wear these clothes in order to keep track of their skin temperature and vital signs, and ambulance crews can monitor patients’ medical status on the way to the hospital.

TFOT recently covered several unique fabrics technologies, including Philips’ Lumalive light-emitting textile, the no-contact jacket , designed to repel assailants who try grabbing the wearer, WarmX electric clothing in which tiny silver fibers are woven into the knitted fabric for added warmth, and the stretchable and washable electronic devices recently developed in Belgium.

More information on Zephyr’s advanced fabric technology can be found on the company’s official website.

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