A team led by Younès Messaddeq, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Photonic Innovations at Université Laval, has developed smart textiles capable of monitoring and transmitting wearers' biomedical information. Using wireless or cellular networks to send information, this technological breakthrough clears a path for a host of developments for those suffering from chronic diseases, elderly people living alone, and even firemen and police officers.
Working out of Université Laval’s Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, the team created the smart fabric by successfully superimposing multiple layers of copper, polymers, glass and silver.
“The fiber acts as both sensor and antenna,” says Messaddeq. “It is durable but malleable, and can be woven with wool or cotton. And signal quality is comparable to commercial antennas. The surface of the fiber can also be adjusted to monitor a range of information such as glucose levels, heart rhythm, brain activity, movements, and spatial coordinates.”
“We have tested a number of solutions, and the results are promising,” he adds. “We will also have to make sure the fabric is robust and can stand up to chemicals found in laundry detergent.”
A patent application has been filed, though some elements still need to be fine-tuned before bringing this innovation to market. “The technology will have to be connected to a wireless network, and there is the issue of power supply to be solved,” says Messaddeq.