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Now, The Clothes That Can Monitor Body Movements

Scientists have developed hi-tech clothes using strain sensing textile fibers that can keep track of the wearer's movements.

Researchers at Deakin University in Australia said the strain sensing textiles could be used to produce compression garments that monitor professional athletes during competition or to allow patients to track and compile data while undergoing physical rehabilitation.

The devices could also be applied to virtual and augmented reality technology, providing more thorough feedback and accurate movement within VR games and simulations, according to the study published in the journal Applied Materials Today.

Strain sensing textiles have particular relevance in the development of smart devices for health, sports, and soft robotics, said Shayan Seyedin from Deakin University.

"These wearable devices can convert a wide range of body movements into electrical signals, making it possible to track and record physical activities such as those involved in fitness and health monitoring, improving exercise efficiency, injury prevention, and rehabilitation," said Seyedin.

Most effectively applied to joints with a high range of movement such as knee, elbow and finger joints, Seyedin's knitted textile prototypes rely on conductive elastic fibers that stretch and relax during movement.

As the resistance levels change, this information is sent to a computer monitor using a wireless transmitter chip, where it can then be recorded and used to provide feedback on body movement and biomechanics.

Seyedin said this was the first time such technology had been scaled up to wearable levels, using standard industry processing and commercially available products to keep it affordable and accessible.

"To date, there has been a limited success in this area," Seyedin said.

Textiles are integral to the clothes we wear for comfort and for fashion, and making them into intelligent input/output devices provides a new opportunity in extending their function beyond the traditional use, he said.

"There are sensors out there that measure small changes and pressure, but the fabric we have developed measures large movements and strains of up to 200 percent and is wearable on its own without the need for bulky or invasive supports," Seyedin said.
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