Forget smartwatches; how about a smart tracker built right into your clothes?
Researchers at Rice University have recently unveiled a new carbon nanotube (CNT) fiber, which is so soft and flexible it can be woven into cotton shirts. Even through the cotton, the CNT still remains conductive enough to perform as an electrocardiogram monitor.
In a recent video, the researchers showed how the CNT fiber is applicable for medical and athletic purposes. For example, the fiber could be woven into racing shirts with just a regular sewing machine, and then connected to small electrodes using Bluetooth to record a runner’s vitals.
According to Input, the main challenge is that an individual CNT fiber—which measures 22 microns wide—is currently too small for a sewing machine to latch onto.
However, the researchers are partnering with a company to turn the fiber into weave bundles that can then be stitched into clothing, which may prove to be the solution.
The invention certainly looks promising, as the team even says that the bundles are “actually beginning to outperform existing materials.” It’s been reported that the CNT fiber provides more accurate EKG readings, while being less invasive than other similar technology.
Though the question remains if people want to be constantly tracked and monitored through their clothing, which may come across to some as a little dystopian. While smartwatches and other accessories can be taken off, it may be unsettling to walk around all day knowing a tracker’s attached to you.
Who knows? Perhaps convenience will take precedence and turn this into a ubiquitous technology in a few years. Take a look at how it works below.