Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and ECLAT Textiles announced iSmartweaR, a clothing line designed to monitor vital signs. Its main feature is that it’s contactless, allowing you to move without restrictions as you track your heart rate and breathing rates. The company uses these two data points to then provide you with insight into your physical activity, sleep quality, and emotional state.
Rather than using traditional sticky polymer contact electrodes as in ECG monitors, the iSmartweaR uses low-power RF technology to measure heartbeats and breaths using a single antennae combined with conductive clothing fibres. Specifically, they use nanosecond pulse near-field sensing (NPNS) technology, which is kind of like a radar system, but for electromagnetic radiation. The system emits RF pulses (300 MHz) and then measures the amount of time it takes for the signal to be reflected back and how the signal’s changed. By doing so, they can detect the motion of arteries and of the breathing chest, which translates into heart rate and breathing rate. They claim “compact size, high sensitivity, high selectivity, high reliability, low price, low energy consumption, and penetrability” as advantages of the system, but metrics to evaluate these claims are yet to become available.
“iSmartweaR is significant and widely applicable,” said Hong-Dun Lin, manager of ITRI’s Center of Measurement Standards. “It can help prevent sudden death in infants by tracking their physiological parameters. It also analyzes a user’s average health data and can warn of abnormal fatigue levels. iSmartweaR can be used in individual sports training, long-term data analysis for senior citizen healthcare, and health monitoring for professionals such as police and firefighters. Therefore, not only is it practical for the general consumer but also for individuals in various professional fields.”