5G equipped T-shirt monitors vital signs

Cristina De Luca -

July 08, 2021

Monitoring patients wherever they are and supervising their health status relentlessly is a pressing task. Inspired by this need, a group of companies recently presented a smart t-shirt with 5G connection and sensors embedded in the fabric that can capture and send real-time information about the user’s health conditions to care centers.

Made of washable material without metal components, the T-shirt has biosensors capable of measuring vital signs, such as body temperature, heartbeat, respiratory rate, muscle effort, and sweat elements. The parameters are recorded in a miniaturized control unit and are converted to digital format, which can be transmitted to the user’s smartphone or smartwatch or to a remote center that will analyze the data using medical software.

The T-shirt design is by AccYouRate, which has teamed up with partners ZTE (provider of the 5G connection), Let’s Webearable Solutions (creator of the sensors), and BSP-Medical (responsible for the algorithms that predict cardiovascular disease) to offer a complete solution.

ZTE will start testing 5G connectivity at an innovation and research center in L’Aquila, Italy. The project has received contributions from various entities, including the Italian Red Cross. Francesco Rocca, president of the organization, points out that technologies like this will be very useful in the so-called “last mile”, where thousands of vulnerable people with chronic diseases and without easy access to care services are found.

The global medical wearables market is expected to reach US$19.5 billion by 2027, with a robust compound annual growth rate of 21.4% over the period 2020 to 2027. Several factors will contribute to this boom, including the increased use of connected devices for chronic disease management, such as AccYouRate’s smart t-shirt and the increased focus on the patient, the pursuit of home healthcare services, and cost containment related to healthcare delivery.

Nor can one ignore the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on this market, with people looking for their own means of assessing their own vital signs, such as oxygenation. In this wave, some studies have shown that wearables could make an early diagnosis of Covid-19, helping to ease the burden of testing in laboratories.

For example, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and Case Western University showed that heart rate data, number of daily steps and sleep time on smartwatches could detect pre-symptomatic cases of COVID-19. They also created an online detection algorithm that identifies early stages of infection by monitoring heart rate in real-time.

More than the first bracelets, watches, and T-shirts, the medical wearables market is gaining more sophistication with products for varied styles and purposes, which people can choose according to the lifestyle or metrics they want to track.

Source: Nature Electronics

In short, more connection means more accessible data and better healthcare for patients. The launch of technologically advanced devices (smart shirts, smart lenses, smart bands, and others) and the analytics software, are expected to drive the growth of the IoT for Healthcare market.