Smart dressing

Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) have taken smart suit technology a step further by producing washable garments that measure vital signs even when you change outfits.

The UniSA research uses garment integrated electronic technology in clothes that download monitored data and recharge themselves when hung on a hanger.

‘For continuous monitoring, you can take off one garment and put on another smart garment so, instead of having just one heart monitor, you can have a wardrobe of them,’ Prof Bruce Thomas of the Wearable Computer Laboratory, said.

Although the concept is not new, the UniSA researchers claim to have developed the first functional smart garment management technology.

‘The wardrobe has a touch screen on the outside and conductive metal bands spanning the hanging rail inside, with wires connecting it to a computer in the base of the wardrobe. When we place electronic hangers, each with their own ID and metal connection, on the rail, it detects the hangers and smart garments incorporating the conductive material and integrated electronics,’ Thomas said.

‘Through this connection, the computer identifies, for example, that hanger 123 has coat 45 on it, which has stored heart monitoring data that needs to be downloaded and the hanger recharged,’ he said.

Garments with communication technology only and a wireless connection enable users to access heart monitoring through a simple blue tooth or zigbee network, eliminating the need for expensive heart monitoring equipment to be placed in each garment.

The smart wardrobe can also be adapted for other uses including the self-diagnosis of faulty monitoring equipment, scheduling cleaning and dry-cleaning, and for preloading news, music and daily schedules into smart garments. It could even act as a ‘fashion butler’ to help people accessorise, colour match and select appropriate clothing for special occasions.