Health-Tracking Woven Garments Like Socks Could Be Here in Two or Three Years
Wearable tech has been around for a while. Watch any training footage of your favorite athletes, and they’re probably wearing at least one garment over their torsos that keeps track of vitals and other measurables. And hardware like smart watches have been known to identify possible ailments.
But, what about something as minimal as socks or a fiber wristband? Researchers think that might be right around the corner.
In a study published yesterday by Applied Physics Reviews, scientists hypothesized that microfibers and nanofibers could eventually keep track of ailments like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, and could be woven into garments or even a person’s skin. Like your common fitness trackers, they’d also keep track of sleep patterns, heart rate, oxygen levels and more, without the extra step of wearing a watch or strapping something to your body.
“You could have something like a face mask,” Rituparna Ghosh, a mechanical engineer at the National University of Singapore, said in the study, according to UPI. “It could be a handkerchief which you put on your wrist and it starts giving data.”
The idea of a face mask that tracks possible health risks is especially interesting right now, as most people in the U.S. wear masks everywhere they go these days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The research team wrote that nano fiber sensors that get energy from motion could be ready for market implementation in two to three years, which seems very soon. But, there is still a lot of work to be done. The sensors need to become more durable and the scientific community still hasn’t mastered powering the microfiber sensors yet.
Also, they need to do more testing to see how reliable the data actually is.
“We need a lot more cause-and-effect studies,” one study co-author wrote. “We need to amass information so doctors will really accept that this is information they can rely on.”
If it works, though, it could completely change the athletic apparel market, as well as the personal care industry. People like wearing accessories like an Apple Watch, but if you could get all of the health benefit of something like that or a Fitbit without having to worry about wearing it, charging it or losing it, people would totally want that. Or, imagine a sock that keeps track of your heart rate while you work out.
It’s still a few years off, but it’s promising for both the fitness and health care markets.