Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) introduced an astounding array of health tech innovations at CES 2021. ITRI’s iSmartWear combines washable conductive fabric with non-contact nanosecond pulse near-field sensing (NPNS) technology to create clothing with healthcare management capability.

The iSmartWear system prints flexible antennae that are heat transferred directly onto textiles. The resulting material is conductive, flexible, and machine washable up to 20 times, according to ITRI. Sensors detect biodata such as heart rate and breathing, and a tiny controller clipped to the material transmits to an associated smartphone via Bluetooth. The sensors do not need to contact skin directly, but can detect information within 20 cm (nearly 8 inches). ITRI reports iSmartWear is verified for hospital patient nighttime monitoring. ITRI also positions the iSmartWear technology for elder care and other remote patient monitoring (RPM) applications.

RPM is a hot topic, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further developments in non-contact sensors, smart clothing, and smart patches point to a time in the perhaps near future when we don’t carry or clip on separate devices, but wear them every day.