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The Future of Wearable Technology

(February/March 2016) posted on Mon Mar 07, 2016

Why screen printers should care about the development of apparel infused with electronic sensors and circuitry.


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By Eileen Fritsch

Healthcare: In the medical field, it’s easy to justify the production of a $400 garment that can significantly reduce the length of a hospital or nursing-home stay. Data can be continuously delivered from a patient’s garment directly into their electronic health records. Advances in sensor technology and microelectronics can also improve clinical trials of new treatments by reducing interactions between providers and patients while improving the quality of the data received from the patients. Electronics on adhesive patches placed on the skin could control and monitor the dosage of prescribed medicines.

Fitness: Sensors built into socks, gloves, T-shirts, and helmet padding can help all types of athletes monitor and improve their performance. For example, Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech smart shirt ($295) connects with an adaptive workout app that can customize a training regimen to match biometric data sent from the shirt. Silver fibers woven directly into the fabric track stats such as heart rate and variability, breathing depth and recovery, intensity of movement, energy output and stress levels, steps taken, and calories burned. A “black box” mounted on the shirt collects and processes the data and contains a 3D accelerometer that captures the intensity of movement based on three g-force measurements. Using the unique bio- and psychometric data from the shirt, the smartphone will display different videos for core, strength, and agility exercises. The shirt and app were developed in collaboration with OMsignal, a biometric technology company that is helping apparel brands develop seamless connections between bodies, textiles, and technologies.



At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a Singapore-based fashion and technology startup called AiraWear showcased a “smart hoodie” that can give stressed-out wearers a massage. At the touch of a smartphone, the jacket uses air pressure to deliver a tension-relieving backrub.


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