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.