Researchers have developed a prototype smart shirt that integrates validated medical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring with breathing rate and breathing depth. The use of state-of-the-art printed electronics technology offers complete freedom in design and optimization of printed sensors and electronics, being as thin as 60 µm and up to 100 percent stretchable. The properties of the electronics thereby become similar to those of a textile, allowing unobtrusive integration. The design can be adapted for a variety of applications, including patient monitoring in hospitals.
The shirt continuously measures the wearers’ ECG, respiration, and motion using a wireless ultralow power multi-sensor data acquisition chip with efficient motion artefact reduction. The chip can share the data via a wireless Bluetooth low-energy system to a smartphone. The developers say the shirt could help to get patients home from hospital sooner by enabling high-quality cardiac monitoring at home and could replace today’s cumbersome holter monitors.
The smart shirt uses compact and distinct dry electrodes rather than a chest band. These electrodes are produced using screen-printable, electrically conductive inks, which allows their shape to be optimized for maximum skin contact for strong signal resolution and monitoring performance.