Washington, Apr 1: Check yourself in the mirror, adjust your collar, and consider the hectic day ahead. This is no ordinary set of clothes you are wearing.
It's smart clothes! According to Jean Luprano, a researcher at the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) who coordinates, ''The Bio-sensing textile for health management (BIOTEX) project the volume of fluid secreted from sweat glands is just a few millilitres over a small surface.'' Garments that can measure a wearer's body temperature or trace their heart activity are just entering the market, but the European project BIOTEX weaves new functions into smart textiles.
Embedded within the fabric are numerous sensors, constantly monitoring your vital signs. If danger signs are detected, the garment is programmed to contact your doctor and send a text message telling you to take it easy.
The BIOTEX partners universities and small enterprises from Italy, France and Ireland have collaborated with CSEM to overcome some of the technical barriers to biosensing textiles.
One of the main achievements of the project has been the development of a suite of prototype ionic biosensors, capable of measuring sodium, potassium and chloride in sweat samples. Another probe measures the conductivity of sweat and a miniaturised pH sensor uses colour changes to indicate the pH of sweat. An immunosensor, which could be integrated into wound dressings or bandages, can detect the presence of specific proteins in fluid samples.
However, whilst BIOTEX has solved several of the technical aspects of continuous biochemical monitoring, Luprano calls for more research into the application of this technology.