Health tech wearables extend to clothing

Oe live in an age where technology is being leveraged to meet our on-the-go needs. Mobile workstations, exercise equipment, and constant health tracking devices have shaped a booming health tech industry, transforming the way we think about everyday life.

According to MarketWatch, the wearable health device market is expected to reach $56.6 billion globally by 2030, from $17.4 billion in 2020, at a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5%. Growing adoption of mobile platforms, artificial intelligence, 5G and preference for home care will likely continue to drive this market.

Activity monitors and trackers (e.g. smartwatches) accounted for the largest market share in 2020, according to the same MarketWatch report. And one of the latest emerging multifunctional devices to track our health is a recent innovation from Dr. Huanan Zhang from University of Utah College of Engineeringhighlighted in a recent problem of PLA materials.

Dr. Zhang and his team have developed a novel screen-printed nanoparticle biosensor for cotton/polyester blend garments, such as a compression sleeve, to act as wearable electromyography (EMG) and detect functional muscle activities in real time. With a wide range of potential clinical applications, such as post-injury or post-surgical muscle rehabilitation, this new technology offers a more cost-effective, simple and user-friendly design for tracking muscle activity than traditional wires and electrodes taped to the skin surface.

“Our hardware allows clinicians to track long-term electrical signals from a muscle with greater accuracy, allowing them to better understand a patient’s journey and treatment outcomes over longer time periods.” said Dr. Zhang.

Dr. Zhang and his colleagues used silver flakes encapsulated with gold nanoparticles – which they dubbed “Au/Ag tissues” – as functional conductors of electrical activity released from muscle fibers and absorbed into the sleeve. compression. These particles represent a viable option for making such a wearable sensor, as gold is highly biocompatible (does not cause skin irritation or toxicity when worn) as opposed to silver alone.

“The silver allows for greater conductivity, while the gold material contains high biocompatibility while improving the overall signal,” says Dr. Zhang.

In addition to demonstrating the effectiveness of their new technology in detecting functional muscle activity, Dr. Zhang and his colleagues provided evidence that the material can be machine washed multiple times (up to 15, in their study) without lose its effectiveness.

Could this emerging technology usher in an era of evolution to track our heart rate and rhythm, as well as muscle function, throughout the body through our clothing?

Dr. Zhang envisions a day when this nanoparticle-printed garment could interface with a smartwatch to provide real-time muscle activity readings. Beyond the cuff the researchers tested in this preliminary study, it’s certainly possible that this technology will make its way into other forms of form-fitting clothing, including compression shorts and pants, undershirts and shirts. socks or leggings.

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