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The new "It" smart textile - Université Laval


It’s not unusual to hear the words smart textiles and biomedical in the same sentence these days. Many universities and pharmaceutical and chemistry companies have increased research funding as the preoccupation for one’s health has dramatically spiked over the last 10 years.

Luckily for all of us, consumers of garments, these new technologies provide a huge impact on our daily lives. It isn’t a question of wearing a textile that is aesthetically pleasing. It is a matter of improving lives all around the world for diverse purposes: Athletic training (sportswear design), people suffering from chronic illnesses, police officers, firefighters, the elderly who live on their own and for most end customers who wish to monitor their health.

A team led by Younès Messaddeq, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Photonic Innovations at Université Laval and one of the world’s leading scientists in the optical fiber field, has just developed a smart textile that is capable of monitoring and transmitting wearers' biomedical information.

It utilizes wireless or cellular networks to send information back to the user, athletes, and doctors who can be alerted by a single change on the vitals from their patients.

Working out of Université Laval’s Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, the team created the smart fabric by successfully superimposing multiple layers of copper, polymers, glass and silver.

“The fiber acts as both sensor and antenna,” says Messaddeq. “It is durable but malleable, and can be woven with wool or cotton. And signal quality is comparable to commercial antennas. The surface of the fiber can also be adjusted to monitor a range of information such as glucose levels, heart rhythm, brain activity, movements, and spatial coordinates.”

“We have tested a number of solutions, and the results are promising,” he adds. “We will also have to make sure the fabric is robust and can stand up to chemicals found in laundry detergent.”

A patent application has been filed, though some elements still need to be fine-tuned before bringing this innovation to market. “The technology will have to be connected to a wireless network, and there is the issue of power supply to be solved,” says Messaddeq.

The release date has not been revealed just yet, however Rethinktex is extremely excited for the continuation of this research project led by Messaddeq.

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