Forget about smart watches. It's time for a smart t-shirt. Researchers at the UBC Okanagan School of Engineering have developed an inexpensive sensor that can be inserted into fabrics and composite materials. Although the research is still relatively new, this sensor can pave the way for smart clothes that can monitor a person’s movements. The built-in microscopic sensor is able to recognize a local movement by stretching woven filaments treated with graphene nanoplates.
They, in turn, are able to read the activity of the body, explains engineering professor Mina Hufar.
Sensors for smart clothes
“Microscopic sensors are changing the way people and cars are monitored,” says Hufar. "The combination of compressible technology with increased accuracy promises a very bright future in this area."
These "shrinking technologies" use the phenomenoncalled piezoresistive resistance - the electromechanical response of the material when it is under pressure. Such tiny sensors have shown great promise in detecting human movements and can be used to monitor heart rate or monitor temperature, explains Hufar.
Her research shows the potential for creatingan inexpensive, sensitive and stretchable yarn gauge. It can be woven into spandex and then wrapped in an elastic silicone shell. Such a shell will protect the conductive layer from unpleasant conditions for it and allow you to create washable sensors that can be worn directly with clothes.
Although the idea of smart clothes is fabrics that cantell the user when to drink or when to rest - can change the industry of athletics, UBC professor Abbas Milani believes that the sensor will find another use. It can track the deformation of composite fabrics with reinforced fibers, which are currently used in the automotive, aerospace and marine industries.
Inexpensive expandable composite sensor alsodemonstrated high sensitivity and the ability to detect small deformations such as stretching the yarn, as well as deformation in inaccessible places inside the composite laminates. Tests show that further improvements in sensor accuracy can be achieved by accurately selecting the mixture of materials that make up the sensor, and improving its electrical conductivity and sensitivity. Such a sensor could detect the "wrinkling of fibers" in the production process of modern composite structures that are used in aircraft or car bodies.
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