‘Smart fabrics’ to monitor health

‘Smart fabrics’ to monitor health

Washington: Researchers are on track to make available low-cost ‘smart fabrics´ capable of detecting diseases, monitoring heart rates and other vital signs, a development that could provide point-of-care diagnostics to healthcare professionals and greater freedom for patients.

Scientists in United States and China have shown progress toward a simple, low-cost method to make “smart fabrics," electronic textiles capable of detecting diseases, monitoring heart rates, and other vital signs, the Science Daily online reported today.

Researchers Nicholas A. Kotov, Chuanlai Xu, and colleagues point out that the “smart fabrics" are soft, flexible, and capable of transmitting electricity when woven into fabrics. In laboratory tests, the researchers showed that the new E-fibers could light up a simple light-emitting diode when connected to a battery.

In the new research, which is to be published in the latest issue of ‘ACS´ Nano Letters’, scientists describe development of cotton fibers coated with electrolytes and carbon nanotubes (CNT) thin filaments 1/50,000 the width of a single human hair.

According to the report, when coated with certain antibodies, the fibers detected the presence of albumin, a key protein in blood a function that could be used to detect bleeding in wounded soldiers.

Tiny sensors woven into the fabric collect information about the wearers vital signs (respiration, heart rate, surface and core temperature) and movement, which can be monitored remotely using embedded GPRS transmitters. People with heart conditions or undergoing rehabilitation that require constant monitoring, athletes, newborns and people with sleep apnoea are among the potential users, the report said. The clothing could also help keep soldiers and emergency crews safe in extreme conditions.