The concept of smart clothing isn’t new. Companies like Google have explored the concept with Project Jacquard. However, the implementation seems rather basic, like performing gestures to interact with your phone, which while nifty feels a bit novel. However, what if smart clothing could be used for more advanced purposes, like gathering biometric data?
That being said, maybe this could be a problem that can be solved if the tech can be more tightly integrated into the clothing. This is what researchers at Rice University have done, where they have created conductive fibers using carbon nanotubes that are then sewn into the clothing itself.
As the nanotubes themselves are so small, the researchers had to bundle several of them together to get it to be around the same size as a regular thread, which then allowed them to use it with a sewing machine. When integrated into an athletic shirt, it allowed the shirt to gather data on the wearer like their heart rate, which means that maybe in the future, our clothes can gather biometric data without the need for chest straps or even smartwatches.
The researchers found that based on their initial tests, that the use of nanotubes allowed it to collect better data compared to a typical chest strap heart monitor, and was also comparable to that of electrode monitors. It might be a while before we see this tech become commercially available, but for now it shows a lot of promise.