Smart T-shirt with removable electronics is next step in wearable health

The T-shirt is the latest of several wearable products developed by researchers at Imec and Holst.

Their related Intuitive Internet of Things program focuses on small, cheap, low power sensing and connectivity products often packed into a single chip.

The T-shirt uses flexible conductive silver traces to link electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors to control electronics packaged into a board the size of an SD card. The card can be removed so the short can be washed.

The card is based on a so-called MUSEIC SoC from Imec. The 180 nm chip includes an analog front end and ECG, EEG and galvanic skin response sensors as well as an Arm Cortex M0 processor. It is a follow on to a multi-sensor SoC Imec designed for Samsung’s Simband.

The card weighs 7 grams, including a button-cell battery and uses an off-the-shelf Bluetooth LE chip to stream body data to a smartphone and from there to the cloud. Imec sees uses for the T-shirt that range from sports training to health care.

“We want to extend the functionality of smart garments and deliver medical-grade data through looser, everyday clothes,” said Ruben de Francisco, a program manager for wearable health products at Imec and Holst.

The shirt is designed as a platform to which OEMs could add sensors such as ones tracking breath rate or dehydration. LED indicators or haptics could also be added to give feedback to users. The shirt is designed to be compatible with existing textile production processes.