Researchers Develop T-shirt to Track Breathing
We live in a world of fitness tracking. We have wearable technology that tracks our steps, heart rates, calories burned and more. We have apps on our phones where we can log our progress and workouts. But there's one aspect of fitness that a lot of these apps and tech devices leave out: breathing.
That's where one group of researchers decided to change things. A team from Laval University's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers in Quebec developed a smart T-shirt that monitors the wearer's respiratory rate in real time, according to Phys.org.
Now, we know what you're probably thinking: "Boy, wouldn't wearing a shirt with all kinds of wires and such be uncomfortable?" Yes, it would, but that's not a problem here.
The T-shirt works without any wires, electrodes or sensors on the user's body, Younes Messaddeq, the leader of the research team, told Phys.org.
"The T-shirt is really comfortable, and doesn't inhibit the subject's natural movements," he said. "Our tests show that the data captured by the shirt is reliable, whether the user is lying down, sitting, standing or moving around."
So how does it work, you ask?
There's an antenna sewn into the T-shirt at the chest level made of a hollow optical fiber coated with a thin layer of silver. The fiber's exterior is covered in a protective polymer. When the user inhales, the fiber senses the increase in thorax circumference and volume of air in the lungs, thus modifying the frequency of of the antenna's signal. The standard movements the shirt makes while the wearer inhales and exhales provide enough of a stimulant for the antenna to project information.
"The antenna does double duty, sensing and transmitting the signals created by respiratory movements," Messaddeq said. "The data can be sent to the user's smartphone or a nearby computer."
This is cutting edge technology, for sure, but what users also look for in athletic apparel other than functionality is washability.
"After 20 washes, the antenna had withstood the water and detergent and was still in good working condition," Messaddeq said.
For promotional products professionals looking for new developments in the world of wearable technology and athletic apparel, this could be something to pay attention to.