Canadian scientists have created a smart T-shirt that monitors the breathing rate of the wearer. This invention open doors for new inventions that can be used to diagnose the respiratory illness and can highly be beneficial for the people suffering from breathing disease like; sleep apnea, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and others.
Published in Sensors, the research explains to us how the innovation has come from the Université Laval’s faculty of science and engineering and its Centre for Optics, Photonics, and Lasers. “Unlike other inventions, this shirt is wireless and without any sensors or electrodes attached to the body” elaborates, Prof Younès Messaddeq, the team leader that worked on the technologically innovative idea.
While talking about the technology, Mr. Messaddeq said that; “The T-shirt is really comfortable and doesn’t inhibit the subject’s natural movements. Our tests show that the data captured by the shirt is reliable, whether the user is lying down, sitting, standing, or moving around.” The T-shirt has an antenna attached to the shirt at chest level. It is made up of a hollow optical fiber coated with a thin layer of silver on its inner surface. The exterior surface of the fiber is covered with a polymer to protect it from surroundings.
According to Mr. Messaddeq; “The antenna does double duty, sensing and transmitting the signals created by respiratory movements. The data can be sent to the user’s smartphone or a nearby computer,”
Mr. Messaddeq explained the phenomenon of working on the shirt; as the wearer breathes the smart fiber on the shirt senses the increase or decrease of the thorax circumference along with the volume of air in the lungs. He further explained that; “These changes modify some of the resonant frequency of the antenna. That’s why the T-shirt doesn’t need to be tight or in direct contact with the wearer’s skin. The oscillations that occur with each breath are enough for the fiber to sense the user’s respiratory rate.”
Currently, the innovation is going through certain tests to assess its durability and performance with reference to time and usage. Till now it is successfully passing out the tests and is developing hopes for further innovative solutions to mankind.