Vest investment

The Northwest Regional Development Agency has awarded a £500,000 Exceptional Development Grant to SmartLife Technology in Manchester to further develop its ‘HealthVest’.

SmartLife has been working on the HealthVest, a garment that incorporates sensors allowing the monitoring of vital health signs, since 2004. It can continuously monitor the wearer’s vital signs and wellbeing, and is targeted toward medical, sports, emergency services and professional driving markets.

The garment uses sensors which can monitor electrocardiogram (ECG), respiration and temperature and is worn next to the skin as an undergarment. The garment then transfers raw signals to electronics carried by the subject for processing, presentation or forwarding to a remote monitoring centre.

Initial applications will include healthcare, where the technology will create the option for elderly people to be monitored. It could also be used to monitor members of the emergency services to reduce the dangers faced when entering fire or stress related situations.

The data is transmitted from the HealthVest, using wireless technology to devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, computers or to a hospital or clinician’s equipment. The HealthVest also retains the option of data being stored on the wearer for later analysis or for on-body status monitoring.

The funding falls under the Grant for Research and Development (GRAND) scheme, a Department for Innovation Universities & Skills (DIUS) business support solution, run in the Northwest by the NWDA. The GRAND scheme provides grants to help individuals and small to medium sized businesses research and develop technologically innovative products and processes. The agency’s GRAND team assesses and fully appraises the elements of the scheme, and continues to monitor the project as it progresses.