Health and Fashion Converge: What’s in Your Closet?

Your next shirt or bra could potentially save your life. Surprised? Well, we’ve already had a glimpse at how much high tech everyday wear can revolutionize your workout, but soon, it will also help you monitor your health. For athletes, the tracking technology, which is woven into clothes to help track heart rate, body heat and calories burned, helps to create the ultimate training regimen.

In a new and developing twist, high tech clothes are now being designed to help patients with certain chronic conditions that need constant monitoring—and can predict emergencies, such as heart failure, days before they happen. Soon, your clothes may be an important part of your check-up or hospital visit. As you wear these garments, healthcare professionals will be able to track your vitals over long periods of time. Yes, health and fashion have converged—and the result could spell improved diagnoses and better patient outcomes.

So How Do Your Clothes Track Your Vitals Anyway?

Threads of silver woven into an entire shirt or select spots of, say, your socks, can pick up electric signals from your body, such as electrocardiograph signals from your heart. These detectors can send the signals to an app on your phone or computer. They then become health readings.

As noted, these innovative technologies were first used in sports wear as a way for athletes to monitor their vitals while training. But companies like Clothing+ and SmartLife are now realizing the potential these new “wearables” hold for medicine and healthcare. Both companies are currently developing vests that can be worn under clothes to track vitals at any point, especially crucial times of the day, for instance, during your morning routine.

Smart T-Shirts, Bras—Even Bandages

CEO Andy Baker tells CNN what his company, SmartLife, hopes to accomplish with this new technology: “We could put a T-shirt on 20 people in a ward and a clinician can walk in with an iPad and see all 20 heart rates.” Having already launched sports bras and T-shirts, SmartLife is now developing bandages with the same technology. These bandages can detect pressure, letting the wearer know just the right amount pressure necessary to stabilize an injury.

Smart Cardiac Vests and Socks

At the same time, another company, Clothing+ is using their technology to develop lifesaving vests and shirts for cardiac patients. The clothes can detect fluid build up in lungs, which can indicate a heart will collapse—up to 10 days prior to the event. So far, their products are showing real potential in helping patients avoid heart failure. And socks can do the same! A company called Ohmatex makes socks that have the ability to measure the circumference of your
leg, which indicates the fluid buildup that can lead to heart failure for edema patients.

So what about style? If a tight fit is top of the list for the fashions you prefer, all the better. The tighter your tech clothes, the better the detectors work. Great new fashions are also in development by CitcuitX, another company that is currently working with Victoria’s Secret and Adidas to incorporate their tech with the designers’ clothes. Ready to shop?

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