Scientists have created “smart clothes” that read body movements
Scientists from the Laboratory of Computer Science and AI Lifeasapa Foundation have developed a new material that looks and feels like an ordinary fabric. Clothes made of this material are able to analyze human movements, correct posture or gait, and even control the person’s state of health.
Sensors in the “smart” material can collect data of the body position and its movements. This can be useful in various situations, such as sports training. The fabric can also help to monitor the well-being of elderly patients and determine if someone has fallen.
Over the past decade, there has been a wave of innovations in wearable electronics, from an interpretive glove to athletic pants that send pulses to improve posture. Scientists note that most of the wearable technology on the market is not easy to incorporate into the current clothing supply chain. This is because when the fabric is equipped with hundreds of sensors, some of them do not work or give incorrect readings during the material’s movement and its interaction with the body and the environment. This makes subsequent data inaccurate.
“Traditionally, it has been difficult to develop mass-produced wearable devices that provide highly accurate data with a large number of sensors,” notes one of developers.
A fabric covered with multiple sensors was created to solve the problem. A self-correcting mechanism was then developed. It uses a machine-learning algorithm to determine when an element will fail and adjust it so that the data is not distorted. Thanks to that the fabric can be used to create different types of clothing and collect accurate data.
The surface of the new material is similar to any other knitwear, such as wool or acrylic. Sensors are embedded at the level of the fibers from which the yarn is made. It makes a textile fabric, which should be soft, elastic and comfortable. In this way, the dressed person will move naturally.
Several demonstration prototypes have been made till now. There are socks that can learn from the way the foot moves. The vest can detect how the body moves, what materials a person touches and how he interacts with their surroundings. In a broader sense, the idea is to create clothing that can analyze users’ movements and then connect that data to an app that can train them to change or improve their behavior. This is as useful both for the average person who slouches at a desk and for the seasoned athlete who wants to improve performance by changing his posture.
Scientists believe that in the future, these data will help to train robots to move and respond to their surroundings by mimicking human behavior. The material could become a part of robots so that they can better perceive their environment, rather than just seeing it with computer vision.