EU-funded researchers in the field of smart clothing have developed a mass-producible system of sensors that can be embedded in fabrics to monitor people’s activity and physiological changes
SimpleSkin project has produced washable sensing fabric which can measure body movement, electrical signals, activities and changes in body capacitance and is aiming for the mass market for these smart textiles.
The researchers aimed to take wearable sensing technology from an expensive, niche curiosity to a mass market product, in the same way society has shifted from simple mobile phones to sophisticated smartphones. They see the potential for a number of everyday uses such as analysing muscle activity during exercise or monitoring nutrition.
“We see applications both as wearable and in ambient technology,” says Professor Jingyuan Cheng, SimpleSkin project coordinator and a senior researcher at the German Research Center of Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).
Garments will be equipped with sensing technology to monitor the wearer’s health
“The textile resistive pressure sensors can be produced cheaply as a pressure sensor matrix with up to 10,000 elements and have proven to be attractive for a broad range of applications far beyond wearable systems.”
Several ambient technologies have been trialled successfully, including a smart tablecloth and an intelligent exercise mat that analyses the user’s movements through pressure sensors, while several more, such as a pillow that detects people’s sleeping posture, are currently under development.
One of the project’s core ideas is to delineate the various stages of production of smart technology, such as textile production, electronics development or software implementation.
Research projects in this story
The SimpleSkin project aims at starting the era of smart clothing. The idea is to incorporate advanced sensing systems into garments. This way it could be possibile to collect vast amounts of information on the physiological parameters of the wearer, such as pulse and breathing rate. This line of search is part of the effort towards the development of new-generation personal monitoring systems.