Bio-sensing textiles to support health management

(FP6-2004-IST-NMP-2 – 016789, EU funded project)

Starting date: 01/09/2005; closing date: 31/05/2008; total project cost: 3,108,029 Euros; total EC funding: 1,900,000 Euros.

Integration of health monitoring tools into textiles brings the benefits of safety and comfort to the users. Instrumented clothes can provide remote monitoring of vitals signs, diagnostics to improve early illness detection and metabolic disorder and benefits to the reduction on medical social costs to the citizen. Ambulatory healthcare, isolated people, convalescent people and patients with chronic diseases are addressed.

To date, developments in that field are mainly focused on physiological measurements (body temperature, electro-cardiogram, electromyogram, breath rhythm, etc.) with first applications targeting sport monitoring and prevention of cardiovascular risk. Biochemical measurements on body fluids are needed to tackle very important health and safety issues.

The BIOTEX project aimed at developing dedicated biochemical-sensing techniques compatible with integration into textile,  the specific goal was to implement textile sensors to measure physiological parameters and the chemical composition of body fluids, with a particular interest in sweat. This goal represents a complete breakthrough, which allows for the first time the monitoring of body fluids via sensors distributed on a textile substrate and performing biochemical measurements. BIOTEX is addressing the sensing part and its electrical or optical connection to a signal processor. A wearable sensing system has been developed that integrates a textile-based fluid handling system for sample collection and transport with a number of sensors including sodium, conductivity, and pH sensors. Sensors for sweat rate, ECG, respiration, and blood oxygenation were also developed. For the first time, it has been possible to monitor a number of physiological parameters together with sweat composition in real time. This has been carried out via a network of wearable sensors distributed around the body of a subject user.

The consortium consists of 8 partners from 4 countries. It includes two research institutes in the field of micro and nanotechnology, two SMEs active in clothing R&D and production, two universities leader in wearable bioengineering, and two companies expert in engineering and manufacturing of textiles for demanding markets.

Smartex was involved as full contractor for the development of textile sensors and the implementation of prototypes.