embroidery machine image
An industry-standard embroidery machine (left). Sensors embedded into a face mask and t-shirt (right). (Credit: Imperial College London)

Researchers have embedded low-cost sensors that monitor breathing, heart rate, and ammonia into t-shirts and face masks.

Potential applications range from monitoring exercise, sleep, and stress to diagnosing and monitoring disease through breath and vital signs.

Spun from a cotton-based conductive thread called PECOTEX, the sensors cost little to manufacture. Just $0.15 produces a meter of thread to seamlessly integrate more than 10 sensors into clothing, and PECOTEX is compatible with industry-standard computerized embroidery machines.

The researchers embroidered the sensors into a face mask to monitor breathing, a t-shirt to monitor heart activity, and textiles to monitor gases like ammonia, a component of the breath that can be used to detect liver and kidney function. The ammonia sensors were developed to test whether gas sensors could also be manufactured using embroidery.

Source