I often write about the need for wearable Health Tech devices to “disappear” into our lives. The more that users are required to make an active choice to use a device or fuss with maintenance tasks such as recharging, the more likely it is that they will stop using it. One product that demonstrates this concept of invisibility is a smart shirt.
The e-skin from Xenoma is a shirt that looks like comes straight out of the movie “Tron,” and incorporates 14 separate motions sensors. Using printed electronics technology, the shirt has flexible conductors that lead to a removable hub that contains the electronics. Remove the hub, and the shirt can be machine washed; it is rated for more than 100 wash cycles. The hub provides a battery for power, and a controller that can link to a smartphone or tablet using a wireless Bluetooth connection. The hub also includes a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope for positional awareness. The system is suitable for a variety of applications. For health uses, it can track breathing rate and sleep quality. It can monitor your motion for a variety of sports and exercise activities. It can even be used to track your movements so that it can be used to control video games.
The e-skin will be available for purchase in February, as will a developer’s kit. The hub could benefit from being a lot smaller; right now, it seems to be a bit like plugging Tony Stark’s “Arc Reactor” power plant onto your chest. I expect that the physical size could be reduced dramatically and that the current four-hour battery life could be extended through improved design. All the same, this is an intriguing first step that could inspire a wide range of applications.