Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MERMOTH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 508272
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: France

Medical sensors integrated into clothing

Remote physiological monitoring of vital signals from patients is one way to reduce healthcare costs. EU-funded researchers advanced the state of the art with wearable sensor technology woven into comfortable washable textiles.
Medical sensors integrated into clothing
Healthcare costs are on the rise due to a number of factors including inadequate utilisation of preventive medicine, increasing lifespans, poor lifestyle choices and stress.

With remote physiological monitoring (RPM), patients can stay in the comfort of their homes while clinicians are able to use their time more efficiently and effectively.

European researchers sought to enhance existing RPM technology by providing a comfortable wearable monitoring unit on a textile platform with funding for the ‘Medical remote monitoring of clothes’ (Mermoth) project.

Scientists first focused on monitoring cardiac electrical activity via electrocardiogram (ECG) measurement and on respiratory sensing.

Standard gel electrodes are uncomfortable and present numerous other technical difficulties when worn for extended duration. Mermoth scientists developed stainless steel electrodes that were knitted directly into the clothes to avoid skin irritation.

They also developed a novel respiratory sensor based on a copper wire crocheted into an adjustable rubber yarn belt. Stretching and relaxation of the conductive yarns during respiration enabled breath frequency detection.

The Mermoth system consisted of the sensors, a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a PC platform. The sensors were connected to the PDA via a wire connection in the prototype model and the PDA to the PC via a short-range radio frequency (RF) link.

All technology was based on commercially available systems and enabled signal acquisition with possible event detection (e.g. arrhythmia), information and communication management and reduction of power consumption. Additional signals collected included temperature, blood pressure and acceleration, particularly important in monitoring falls in an ageing population.

Tests validated comfort and reliability of signals under a variety of conditions. In addition, a given suit was adaptable to three different sizes due to its elastic nature, enhancing cost effectiveness in manufacture. Finally, the garments were fully washable and easy to maintain, with minimal cost of purchase, operation and maintenance.

Widespread implementation of Mermoth technology could have important impact on patient health and comfort while decreasing healthcare costs for individuals and governments alike.

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