Industrial Design student Justine Smith has looked to new technology for a solution to one of the most common ailments in the world today – chronic back pain. The result is Spinovo (spine + new) – a concept smart clothing product that uses modular packs to treat pain through heating, cooling, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapies, as well as incorporating bend sensors to ensure the wearer maintains the correct posture.
Smith, who studied at the University Of New South Wales, Australia, designed Spinovo after watching her father struggle with long-term back pain. The concept aims to deliver a holistic approach to the problem and Ms Smith consulted physiotherapists, chiropractors and a teacher of the Alexander Technique in developing the modular Spinovo system.
The design incorporates electromyography (EMG) sensors and four therapy packs, with each pack located to target the major skeletal muscle groups. The system is powered by two rechargeable polymer lithium ion batteries in the front pockets, providing enough power to apply heat therapy for up to two hours on the full setting.
Applying TENS therapy, Spinovo attempts to alleviate muscle and nerve pain through mild electrical currents passing through the wearer's skin via four large adhesive pads, which the designer says helps prevent the electrical energy from being dispersed deep under the skin.
Flexpoint bend sensorSpinovo also incorporates a flexible film bend sensor that runs from the middle to the lower section of the spine. The thin carbon and polymer bend sensor measures the electrical activity of the major back muscles along with calculating the spine's position and movement. As the polymer film is bent, changes in electrical resistance are recorded and calculated by the circuit packs. This information is used to alert the wearer to poor posture by sounding an alarm and sending visual feedback to a remote control.
Spinovo was selected as a finalist in the 2010 Australian James Dyson Awards.