Softmatter’s smart textiles help monitor wearers’ health and well-being – Sourcing Journal
Textile technology company Softmatter sees great potential for its wearable technologies, including smart apparel.
Innovations from the company, a subsidiary of Victoria’s Secret Sri Lankan supplier MAS Holdings, include engineered wristbands made from advanced textiles such as flat-knit and woven elastics, and sensor-integrated clothing. CEO Ulysses Wong said the diverse opportunities for Softmatter’s apparel business included not only the wellness space but also the medical space.
These products are designed for both fit and aesthetics, allowing sensors, haptics, battery backup, dry electrodes and more to be integrated without compromising the comfort of the wearer. Biosensing on tops, bottoms and full-body gear could provide users with important health data and enable remote patient monitoring. Softmatter clothing can capture movement-related data through its integrated textile-based and electronic sensors. An electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor built into the clothing measures heart rate and respiration while also measuring the wearer’s readings during intense activity. Electromyography (EMG) sensors are integrated to track muscle activity and gestures.
Softmatter developed and tested all of these applications, Wong said, and “we’re very interested now in unlocking flexible power delivery for these wearables.” In late February, Softmatter technology was introduced in the Therabody Recovery Pulse sleeve to increase circulation and reduce pain in the arms and elbows. Last year, the company partnered with Scandinavian sportswear manufacturer Odlo to introduce I-Thermic base-layer and mid-layer tops that offer adjustable warmth without bulky layers.
“Integrating elements of technology without sacrificing the natural beneficial parameters of textiles has been a challenge, and this is what many of our innovations focus on,” Wong said, noting that the goal is for the technology to disappear into the fabric. “Another major challenge and limiting factor for the usability of smart textiles is the power supply, which requires large and heavy batteries, which we are trying to address through an integrated flexible, drapable and washable battery technology.”
Softmatter aims to make these products fit into consumers’ lives as seamlessly as any other product, with or without technology. Wearables adoption is increasing as smart textiles become more accessible to everyday wearers, costs come down, and reliability and durability improve, he added.
“We focus on positioning and keeping the sensors in the most precise location on the body using engineered knitting, variable modulus and other techniques,” Wong said. “It allows for less noise and better insights.” When it comes to applications like remote patient monitoring, “getting a repeatable and accurate signal is critical for healthcare interventions,” he added.
Meanwhile, on-skin feedback technologies such as haptics and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) could provide pain relief, while electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can strengthen and rehabilitate muscles. Heating and cooling can be embedded into garments, while luminous technology delivers safety notifications and alerts. Wearable technology and smart textiles are evolving rapidly as their use cases and benefits continue to take shape.
In the not-too-distant future, the sector is likely to see advances in miniaturized batteries or other power sources and touch controls embedded in textiles, Wong said. “We are on a journey to enable positive change and drive progress through intelligent engineering solutions and wearable technology to enhance and empower the human experience,” he said.
https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/technology/softmatter-technology-enabled-textiles-mas-holdings-health-monitoring-data-422258/ Softmatter’s smart textiles help monitor wearers’ health and well-being – Sourcing Journal