Expect machine washable clothing that can track you’re your heart rate, BMI, and a host of your bodily functions.
Turns out smartwatches may have a limited shelf life after all: in the near future their existence could be reduced to a redundancy since the very clothes that you wear could have the capability to monitor your heart.
Researchers have now developed polymer optical fibers that are flexible enough to be woven into clothing, thus opening the doors for sensors in our outfits. If that wasn’t enough, these sensors are likely to be washing machine friendly to boot.
So theoretically, you could slip on your ordinary looking shirt which tracks your BPM and after your run you could just toss it for laundry.
The trick is to craft the fiber such that it melts and splits into two polymers: while one will transmit the light-based data, the other will serve as a protective coating.
Although in theory this sounds simple enough, in practice it is quite a Himalayan task: you cannot just normally melt and spin optical fibers.
The techniques evolved by the scientists allow for high production volumes.
The current focus of the researchers is to cater to the needs of hospitals for such clothing, since patients wearing these sensor-equipped clothing can be easily monitored for their vital signs without risking pricks and sores that normally accompany traditional sensors.
The researchers now aim to expand this technology to track oxygen levels, pressures and other crucial data.
It is reasonable to expect this technology to eventually step outside of the medical field, so don’t be surprised to see fitness apparels that track your bodily stats without any obvious signs of technology embedded into them.