May 28, 2007 We've been speaking recently with a couple of innovative companies who are taking different angles on how wearable medical observation apparatus can be used in sport and medicine. Now, an EU-funded project is setting out to take the next step - creating comfortable clothing with the built-in ability to measure a range of physiological data using intelligent textiles instead of bulky apparatus. Comfortable and unobtrusive biochemical measurement equipment could play a significant role in preventative and recovery medicine, among other areas.
As the first of its kind, the BIOTEX project is developing optimal electric, electrochemical and optical sensors which will be embedded into a textile substrate to create 'sensing patches' able to monitor the biochemical parameters of a user.
The aim of these 'sensing patches' will be to continuously monitor the bodily fluids (blood, sweat and urine) of the wearer throughout the day. In this way, the project aims to be of particular use for people working in extreme conditions as well as people suffering from diabetes or sportspeople.
'The main idea behind the project is to develop biochemical sensors for three potential applications. The first will be to monitor sweat including the pH, salinity and perspiration rate of the user. The second will be to detect the level of infection of patients suffering from burns so as to monitor the healing of their wounds. And the third will be to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels for medical, sport and even security applications,' said Isabelle Chartier of the French Atomic Energy Commission, one of the partners in the project.
The next step in the project will be to try out the first multi-parameter sensing-patches on test subjects.
The project consortium consists of eight partners from four countries. It includes two research institutes in the field of micro and nanotechnology, two small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in clothing research and development and production, two universities with leadership in wearable bioengineering, and two companies with expertise in the engineering and manufacturing of textiles for demanding markets.
The BIOTEX project is a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).