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New fabric can monitor biomedical data

December 16, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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It may not be long before hospital gowns will replace bedside monitors and wireless devices.

Under the direction of Professor Younès Messaddeq, researchers at Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers in Quebec City, Canada, have developed a smart textile that can monitor and transmit the wearer's biomedical data over a wireless or cellular network.

Made of layers of copper, polymers, glass and silver, the fiber acts as both a sensor and an antenna and can be woven with wool or cotton to form fabric.

Interestingly, the surface of the fiber can be "programmed" to monitor a wide range of information such as glucose levels, heart rhythm, brain activity and movements.

"Of course, the technology will have to be connected to a wireless network, and there is the issue of power supply to be solved," Messaddeq said in a press release. "We have tested a number of solutions, and the results are promising. We will also have to make sure the fabric is robust, and can stand up to chemicals found in laundry detergent."