Functionalised fabrics and wearer interaction
Coyle, Shirley (2010) Functionalised fabrics and wearer interaction. In: Smart Fabrics 2010, 14-16 April 2010, Miami, Florida, USA.
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This talk will present wearable sensor research carried within CLARITY - Centre for Sensor Web Technologies. The aim of CLARITY is to bridge the molecular and digital worlds. This interdisciplinary research encompasses all stages of development - from novel materials and sensor research right through to end user applications. The research theme is to “Bring information to life” - there is much information that can be harvested about our bodies and the environment we move through using sensor technology, the important question is what to do with all the information? It is vital to develop interactive systems that are accessible and straightforward to use. Two case studies will be presented of systems for use in hospital wards and home settings – a sensor glove for stroke rehabilitation and a breathing feedback system for respiratory rehabilitation and stress management. Another area of research involving smart fabrics for healthcare is on-body chemical analysis. This is a new and challenging concept in the field of smart fabrics and interactive textiles. This work commenced as part of the EU BIOTEX project, and in this paper we present lessons learnt and current developments and findings.
Carbon-loaded elastomer(CE) sensors have piezo-resitive properties which can be used to detect hand movements. The CE sensors are integrated into an oedema glove which is often worn by stroke patients to reduce swelling in the hand. The glove is used to assess the patient’s performance by scoring the movements based on the Fugel-Meyer Assessment system which assesses various motor functions (0 = cannot perform; 1 = performs partially; 2 = performs fully). This method of garment-based sensed information/personalised user feedback would allow an individual to be assessed from home on a continual basis under remote supervision by a trained physical therapist.
A vest integrating CE stretch sensors has been developed to measure breathing patterns. Patients with respiratory illnesses often tend to take shallow short breaths which exacerbates chest muscle weakness, and associated reduced oxygen circulation, shortness of breath and fatigue. Proper breathing exercises can help to reduce these symptoms as well as strengthen muscles, improve posture and enhance mental attitude. This paper presents a wearable system which monitors breathing technique and provides straightforward feedback to the user through a graphical interface. An avatar displayed on the screen encourages diaphragmatic breathing while a real-time representation of the user’s breathing technique is also displayed. The user’s goal is to perform deep diaphragmatic breathing in synchronization with the avatar.
Real-time sweat analysis
Real-time analysis of sweat loss is an exciting prospect for the sports industry. Replacing the fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise is vital to ensure adequate hydration which affects health and performance. We have developed a wearable device to provide immediate feedback to the user regarding the pH level of their sweat. An array of pH indicators are used to create a coloured barcode onto thin layers of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). The barcode sensor is flexible and can adapt to the contours of the body easily. It is integrated into a sweat band to be placed on different body regions e.g. forearm, wrist or forehead. We have also developed a wearable microfluidic device to sample and analyse small quantities of sweat.
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