Researchers developed a new technology that turns a regular shirt into a smart shirt that monitors heart rate.
Scientists at Rice University, Texas, developed a smart shirt made of interwoven carbon nanotube fibers to give stable electrical contact with wearer’s skin, which allows it to gather data on ongoing heart activity. There are many examples of such smart garments, which were created to monitor various aspects of the person’s wellbeing. According to the study published in American Chemical Society journal in August 2021, this new smart shirt is created by sewing nanotube fibers into athletic wear to keep track of heart rate and to take a frequent electrocardiogram (EKG) of the wearer.
The design uses concept of carbon nanotube fibers firstly introduced in 2013 by the same university. These nanotubes were equally strong to a textile thread and were good conductors of heat and electricity just like metal wire. To develop this shirt, the researchers made use of rope making tool to pack the filaments together. Then bundles were woven into fiber almost the same size as normal thread. After that, fibers were stitches by machine into fabric in a zigzag manner just so they don’t break when they are stretched. As it was done in a sport shirt, the fibers operate their conductivity to behave as integrated electrodes and signal transmission wires, which opened a door for some interesting efficient uses. The experiment carried out by the team was to compare the efficiency of their newly engineered shirt to monitor and note the data of heart rate of the wearer to a normal chest strap monitor.
The results of the experiment were promising. The researchers determined that the shirt performed very well compared to commercially available electrode monitors. The team envisions bunch of possible uses for the fabric as it is washable in machine and can be linked to Bluetooth devices to record heart activity.