An “intelligent” t-shirt has been created, capable of acquiring data, such as heart rate and respiratory parameters, detectable by means of optical fiber sensors encapsulated inside polymeric materials incorporated in the t-shirt itself.
This result was possible thanks to a new technological application developed by ENEA together with The University Campus Bio-Medico in Rome.
The “smart” t-shirt is able to facilitate both the clinical investigations and the sporting performance of the wearer. It will be particularly useful in sports medicine, since it leaves the patient much freer in movement than in the case with traditional methods.
This new product has been tested on cyclists, with simulated workout, during which several parameters were monitored such as compartment volumes and respiration rate, which may be useful to optimize training and improve performances.
The advantages offered by these t-shirts are not only applicable in the sports-sector, but also apply to every kind of clinical investigations, especially those under unfavorable conditions. This is the case, for example, of magnetic resonances, in which the comfort of the patient is guaranteed, which must be limited by wearing a shirt, while some parameters related to respiratory act are monitored, whereas traditional electrical e-type sensors are disturbed by the intense magnetic field necessary to perform the exam.
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE OPTICAL FIBER
Optical fiber is easy to wear and flexible, simplifies the wiring and allows to insert multiple sensors in the same garment (in the “smart” shirt, up to 18 sensors have been encapsulated, all connected with a single cable to the device data collection and processing).
The technology used does not support wireless connection. However, this is not a limitation, since the cable-free connection is subject to electromagnetic interference which, on the other hand, does not occur.