A new smart shirt will soon hit the market and it is expected to help people, specially athletes, maintain their health.
The FitnessSHIRT was developed at the Frainhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlagen, Germany.
These shirts will be available in the market starting next year. The shirt uses conductive textile electrodes, integrated into its material to capture cardiac activity like breathing, pulse, and changes in heart rate.
The shirt also has an elastic band, which is designed to track the chest movements associated with breathing.
This data is collected by a removable electronic unit, which uses algorithms to calculate various parameters. That data is sent wirelessly to a mobile device or computer to be stored and translated into broader metrics like performance, exertion, and stress.
It is not yet clear whether FitnessSHIRT is affordable. However, highly paid athletes will certainly have a go at the new product. This one can also replace the chest strap heart rate monitors, which seem rather uncomfortable for the user.
The shirt also will spot potential problems, like a high pulse rate with a low breathing and activity, which may be a sign of heart related issues.
Fraunhofer also is teaming up with BitifEye Digital Test Solutions to combine the FitnessSHIRT with the MENTORbike, a device that uses a pedelec to gather data from the cyclist and bicycle to calculate speed and the amount of energy expended. The researchers add that they are still figuring out whether they can create an algorithm that can help spot arrhythmias, enabling physicians to use the shirts as long-term electrocardiograms also.
As of now, all we know is that the researchers plan to demonstrate the bike and shirt at the Medica 2013 Trade Fair in Düsseldorf on November.