As medical and fitness tracking sensors become smaller and more advanced, they become easier to integrate into our daily lives, making their adoption more widespread. They won’t totally “disappear” into our lives, however, until they become less of a nuisance. You still often need a separate device or gadget to for your bedside, your wrist, or some other body part to make use of the data sensors provide. Now an apparel innovator is weaving flexible sensors into the very clothes we wear – in fact, into our undergarments – that can track and interpret biometric data.
Researchers at Austin, Texas-based SKIIN Smart Garments have found a way to incorporate hidden sensors into fabric by weaving conductive yarns into textiles, creating a washable smart garment that can detect signals from your body. According to the company’s website, its undergarments for men and women “can monitor your body’s vitals, measure your activity, understand your state-of-mind, interact with the IoT, heat up when you’re cold, anticipate illness, deliver therapies and so much more.” The convenience of these undergarments is an important advance over other smart garments because you don’t need a separate device, apart from what’s in the undergarment, to make use of the data received. Putting on your underwear is much like brushing your teeth; you don’t stop to think about it, you just do it and get on with your day. A small removable module for tracking data slides into a hidden pocket in the band of the garments. The SKIIN biosensing smart garments enable tracking of health, sleep quality, activity level, and state-of-mind, combining data from 6 different sensors. The company’s starter packs include enough garments for a week so you can receive biometric data 24/7 for seven days without doing laundry. SKIIN underwear is machine washable as long as you remove the module from the waistband first. The company is also working to develop a knitted exo-skeletal clothing that will allow those with spinal cord injuries to walk again, and let doctors to apply therapies remotely.
The convenience of smart garments that are actually underwear – something we wear each day without a second thought – makes seamless integration into our daily lives possible. Because SKIIN’s undergarments are equipped to monitor and measure heart rate, breathing, hydration, body temperature, body fat, sleep, and even stress, medical applications for these smart garments are promising as well, and those with chronic health conditions stand to benefit a great deal.