Some of the initial buzz has waned, but large companies are investing heavily in the technology and giving us a glimpse of what may be ahead.
Xenoma has developed “e-skin” smart apparel technology for gaming, sports and fitness, and healthcare. Their e-skin polyester/Spandex shirt feels like a typical compression shirt and can be washed more than 100 times. Fourteen sensors on the outer surface of the shirt can monitor the user’s motion and transmit data through the e-skin Hub, a centralized controller that connects via Bluetooth to a laptop, PC, smartphone, or tablet. The Hub also has a USB port for recharging.
Xenoma’s Printed Circuit Fabric allows stretchable wires and sensors to be integrated into traditional textiles. The e-skin wearable circuit can endure high-strain rates caused by movements such as putting on and taking off the garment. The fabric can be used to create apparel for monitoring infants or uniforms that can monitor worker health and safety. At CES 2018, Xenoma showed smart pajamas that hospitals could use to monitor the movements of dementia patients.
The Xenoma smart e-skin compression shirt for VR gaming can turn your body into a controller for virtual-reality games and experiences. The shirt has 14 strategically placed sensors woven into the front and back of the shirt. The shirt’s Bluetooth connectivity allows the wearer to connect to virtual-reality and mixed-reality headsets. E-skin smart apparel technology can also be configured for sports, fitness, and healthcare applications. (Courtesy of Xenoma.)
Sensoria has trademarked their vision “The Garment Is The Computer.” They have developed an entire line of sports bras and T-shirts that can be connected to training plans in the Sensoria Run v2.0 app, which features a cardiologist-created algorithm called Heart Sentinel that can detect certain cardiac irregularities that often precede catastrophic events. If distance runners or cyclists experience cardiac distress while training alone in a remote area, for example, the Heart Sentinel can confirm that the athlete is still conscious or send a text message urging family members to seek help.
Sensoria also makes running shoes with textile pressure sensors infused under the plantar area of the foot. The running shoes not only track how far and how fast a runner travels, but also how well he or she runs. Sensoria’s artificial intelligence coach monitors cadence, foot landing, and impact forces to help runners reduce the risk of injuries.
Sensing Tex, based in Barcelona, Spain, is a company that integrates electronics into textiles for use as fitness mats, seating pads, mattress pads, or flexible keyboards.
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