Researchers Designed New Conductive Thread To Embed Sensors Into Clothing

Sensors Into Clothing

Pointers at Glance

  • The new conductive thread design could usher in a new means of fabricating wearable sensors (to embed sensors into clothing).
  • It could be a game changer in the fabrication and commercialization of wearable sensors into clothing.
  • It would be available at a low cost, compatible with sewing machines and machine washable.

A novel designed conductive thread could be a game changer in the fabrication & commercialization of wearable sensors.

Available at low-cost, compatible with existing sewing machines and machine-washable, the new thread, dubbed PECOTEX, was designed by researchers at Imperial College London. It could be the next major thing in creating embedded wearable sensors.

These wearable sensors can be used in everything from monitoring sleep and exercise to diagnosing or assisting with medical conditions. Three feet of PECOTEX thread costs $0.15 to create 10 sensors for integration into everyday clothing items like T-Shirts or face masks.

The first author Fahad Alshabouna said that the flexible medium of clothing means the sensors have a wide range of applications. They are also relatively easy to produce, which means the designers could scale up manufacturing and usher in a new generation of wearable sensors into clothing.

In tests of the new material, the researchers embroidered sensors into a face mask to monitor a user’s breathing, T-shirts for cardiac activity, and other textiles to identify potentially harmful gasses in the air, such as ammonia.

The lead author Dr. Firat Guder said that PECOTEX is high-performing, strong, and adaptable to different needs. It is readily scalable, which means it can be produced inexpensively in large volumes using domestic and industrial computerized embroidery machines.

Further research is anticipated on how this thread can be applied to the energy industry. Specifically in energy storage and harvesting, as well as how to scale up operations to make them commercially viable.

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