We’ve written about the Hexoskin health sensing smart shirt several times, including the device’s use with young athletes and astronauts. Now Hexoskin has an additional application: monitoring patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is no cure for this condition that makes breathing difficult for the 16 million Americans diagnosed with COPD, according to the CDC. Treatment can help patients with COPD symptoms, but the most effective treatment is early intervention.

Researchers at Radboud University Medical College (RUMC) in The Netherlands believe Hexoskin will be a reliable tool to measure breathing in patients with COPD. The smart shirt senses chest expansion and contraction as well as heart rate and body movement. The Hexoskin mobile app uses the breathing activity to determine the volume of air inhaled and exhaled that are key metrics in assessing COPD patient health. Denise Mannée, a technical physician and Ph.D. candidate at RUMC, presented a report to the European Respiratory Society International Congress that showed the Hexoskin technology was as accurate in measuring breathing as traditional — and much bulkier — apparatus that includes a backpack and face mask.

Mannée and her team tested both the Hexoskin smart shirt and the conventional measurement equipment with 15 healthy volunteers. The volunteer subjects wore the smart shirt and then the traditional equipment while lying down, sitting, standing, climbing stairs, and vacuuming.

Because of their success with healthy subjects, the RUMC researchers plan to test COPD patients next. According to the team, Hexoskin and the mobile app may also help monitor patients with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and following lung transplants.