The Shirt Knows Your Vitals
At Madrid's Carlos III University, researchers have developed a garment that could revolutionize hospital care -- and the lives of patients once they leave the hospital. By means of a washable tank top design, in which readings are collected and sent wirelessly to a central system, doctors and hospital staff will soon be able to keep a nearly realtime record of patients' heart and lung activity, whether the patient is lying down or engaging in activity, even their location within the hospital -- all without bothering patients in the night, or introducing the human error of data collection. By increasing the number of datapoints and making the conditions of your monitoring as consistent as possible, the shirt could even help doctors figure out extra symptoms or rule out possible diagnoses with greater accuracy.
The LOBIN shirt is designed to be comfortable, but also fairly tailored to the body so it remains in constant contact with the skin -- which solves the problem of those flyaway gowns all patients dislike. After all, the reason conventional gowns leave us feeling so, let's say, exposed is because they need to allow easy access for all those tests and measurements. Making the outfit itself responsible for that data solves multiple problems -- and creates a data narrative that could be more informative than even that rigorous and regular in-patient testing. Throughout the shirt, electrodes, a temperature monitor and an accelerometer are all gathering patient information and transmitting it as useable data for medical professionals.
The project, which has been tested in various environments, should go to market by 2013. No price point for the shirts and monitoring tech has been mentioned publicly. As of mid-2012, the plan for is for data to be sent to "beacons" placed around the hospital and fed to a central computer, where histories and workups can be generated for doctors' use in treatment. And for those patients that might be prone to wander, the data can even pinpoint their locations to within a few yards. The shirt itself is washable, because the majority of the circuitry is contained in a separate device that plugs in. The project team says that they're working on refinements, including integrating the monitor into the garment itself.