A team of Engineers at the University of Arkansas in the US has developed a wireless textile health-monitoring system that gathers patient information, regardless of the person’s location, in real time for doctors or the patients to view themselves.
The system includes a series of nanostructured textile sensors, which are integrated into a conventional sports bra for women and vest for men.
Through a lightweight and wireless module that snaps onto these garments, the sensors communicate with system software that relies on a smart phone to collect information, compress it and send it over a variety of wireless networks.
According to the researchers, the sensors are made from an array of gold nano-electrodes fabricated on a flexible substrate. These are then woven into the bra material.
The system monitors blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, some neural activity and all the readings provided by a conventional electrocardiograph (ECG), including the ability to display inverted T-waves, which indicate the onset of cardiac arrest.
Vijay Varadan, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas, said: “Our e-bra enables continuous, real-time monitoring to identify any pathophysiological changes
“It is a platform on which various sensors for cardiac-health monitoring are integrated into the fabric. The garment collects and transmits vital health signals to any desired location in the world.”
The engineers added that data from the sensors stream to commercially available cell phones and hand-held devices, which expand the use of the system beyond health care. They said by carrying a mobile phone, athletes can monitor all the signs mentioned above and other metrics, such as the number of calories burned during a workout.
This software also includes GPS (global positioning system) that tracks the exact latitude and longitude of the patient or athlete. The geographic information is transferred to a cloud cluster and stored in a secured database that doctors or other health-care personnel can access it to view the location of the patient as well as historic or real-time ECG data.
Additionally, it can be programmed to send emergency messages, via voice or text messaging, if it detects extreme or abnormal conditions.
Professor Varadan has not yet published findings on the e-bra, but results on the system, which he calls an e-Nanoflex Sensor System, were published in the Journal of Nanotechnology in Engineering and Medicine. The research is supported by the Global Institute for Nanotechnology in Engineering and Medicine.
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