A sensory shirt

In the future, when you get sick, the very shirt on your back might be able to tell the doctor what’s wrong.

If it all sounds a little far fetched then a visit to the web site of Sensatex, developers of the ‘Smart Shirt’ will prove just how close to reality it is. The Smart Shirt is exactly what it says – an item of clothing bristling with sensors that collects patient data and transmits it to where it can be analysed and examined.

The sensing components that capture the vital signs of the wearer can either be knitted into the fabric of the Smart Shirt or plugged into connectors on the shirt itself. The Shirt can integrate a large variety of sensor types, including those for biological phenomenon such as heart rate, respiration rate, and ECG; physical sensors such as barrier penetration, motion, and position; environmental sensors such as temperature. Sensors can be mounted at any location on the garment.

In a current Smart Shirt prototype, the Interconnection Technology has been used to capture sensory data for electrocardiography (ECG), heart rate, temperature, respiration rate, pulse oximetry (SpO2), and voice data.

Once collected, the data is routed to a pager-sized transceiver attached to the waist portion of the Shirt. After collection by the transceiver, the information is sent to a portable ‘wireless gateway’ that uses smart software to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective transmission method for a given setting.

The gateway transmits the data through the Internet to a data server where the bulk of information processing and monitoring occurs. Here, the data is processed with industry-standard monitoring software that has been ported to the Sensatex server through a custom-developed Applications Programming Interface.

The processed information is then sent to the appropriate parties, including the patient and/or the patient’s caregivers, via the Internet.