Introducing Sensing Capabilities into Textiles

Dermot Diamond

National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR)

Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland



Wearable sensors provide a non-invasive and comfortable method for continuous on-body monitoring of parameters such as heart and breathing rates, and various limb movements [1]. At this point, products are beginning to appear, such as the Apple iPod-Nike sport kit (see that tracks running rate through an accelerometer embedded in a Nike exercise trainer that communicates wirelessly to an iPod, and the Adidas-Polar ‘Project Fusion’ kit that tracks heart rate wirelessly to a Polar ‘watch’ like device.

There is no doubt that a range of wearable sensing products targeting people who are relatively serious about their personal fitness will appear in the near term (2 years), bundled with a software platform that enables performance to be easily monitored, archived and shared. In this talk, I will cover these emerging technologies and discuss the potential market drivers that are feeding the R&D activity underpinning these products.

I will also look at sensing technologies that, while they are further away from productisation, are likely to play a role in future merging wearable sensing platforms. These include very low cost fabric based strain gauges based on modified textiles that enable respiration and limb movements to be tracked, and more sophisticated wearable chemical analysis platforms that can track the composition of sweat in real-time during exercise (see

A critical aspect of the latter is the ability to control liquid movements through and across fabric surfaces using very low power (ideally zero power), enabling samples to be carried to specific locations at which analytical measurements can be performed.


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