Wearable electronics is a rapidly growing market offering designers and OEMs countless opportunities for innovation. Two of the most prominent markets, and probably the most profitable at this point time, are physical fitness and healthcare/medical devices. Along the lines of physical fitness, I was recently invited to see some developments in a wearable heart-monitoring system from NuMetrex.
The company’s wearable heart monitoring garments include a sports bra for women and an athletic shirt for men. Both garments employ “smart fabric” technology consists of special sensing fiber electrodes woven directly into the product. These fibers look like nothing more than a small decorative weave pattern, about the size of two postage stamps side by side and placed near the heart of the wearer. Of note, running a finger over these fibers, they feel like very soft cotton, posing no discomfort of any kind to the wearer.
Numetrex offers both a workout shirt for men, pictured above,
left, and a sports bra for women, pictured above. (photos courtesy of Felix Candelaria)
Before putting on the shirt or bra, the user need only do a few things. First, slightly moisten the heart- sensing fiber electrodes with a bit of water on a fingertip. Next, snap the transmitter into a dedicated pocket in the garment. Third, decide what device to use to monitor heart rate with: smartphone or watch.
The Bluetooth or ANT+ transmitter fits into a dedicated pocket on the shirt or bra.
The beauty of these garments is users have a range of choices when it comes to monitoring their activities. Smartphone users can choose either Bluetooth or ANT+, watch watchers can decide between Bluetooth, ANT+, or analog transmit/receive, and cardio machine trotters can use either ANT+ or analog systems. Each is different, but each works equally well.
Finally, the user chooses the heart monitoring, either the Adidas miCoach App or NuMetrex Heart Rate Monitor. Adidas’ miCoach App is available for Bluetooth or ANT+ and is a free download from the usual venues. The NuMetrex Heart Rate Monitor is available for watches and cardio platforms.
Once the user has his or her app of choice loaded into their device of choice, they can create a personal training program that is easily monitored and maintained by their own personal trainer: themselves. It should also be very clear that these wearable devices are evolving and as the days go by, they will find application in many other areas. Sports medicine, internal medicine, and, perhaps, space travel are just a chipping of the surface. ~MD