A smart garment is said to be a fiber capable of capturing, recording, reacting, or even interacting with a signal via sensors, microelectronic components, or even electrodes. If certain applications can today be considered as ‘gadgets’, these garments of the future could actually prove useful in the field of health. Scientists at Tōhoku University in Japan have just developed a fiber capable of analyzing the sweat of the wearer in order to monitor vital physiological signals related to their state of mental and physical health. . A first, considering that this type of fiber had never before been transformed into wearable fabric.
Published in the scientific journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, their work revolves more precisely around a “microelectronic fiber with microscopic parameters” capable of analyzing “the electrolytes and metabolites of sweat”, in other words, sorts of markers making it possible to determine the presence of a potential health problem. “To produce the fiber, the group used the versatile process of thermal stretching, which involves applying heat to extract a microstructured fiber from its macroscopic preform. The team also printed two electrodes for sensing sodium and uric acid on the longitudinal surface of the fiber,” the researchers explain.
Truly Wearable Smart Fabric
This is not the first time that scientists have worked on such smart fibers. As early as 2014, researchers from Laval University in Canada presented smart textiles capable of capturing biomedical information about the people who wear them. The researchers then hoped that these fibers could serve as an intermediary between the person and the relief in the event of a heart rhythm disorder, for example, especially during sleep.
But the Japanese scientists explain that they have gone even further by focusing on the transformation of the fiber so that it can actually be integrated into a garment. “Since most of the developments made so far could not be considered as clothing, we devoted our efforts to transforming the fiber, in order to make a truly wearable smart fabric,” said Yuanyuan Guo, assistant professor at Frontier Research. Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences at Tohoku University.
This new innovation could eventually make it possible to create smart clothing combining comfort and an extended detection area, with the added bonus of “greater versatility of functions”. All at the service of health.
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