Brussels, 06 Oct 2006
A group of researchers working on the EU-funded WEALTHY project have developed a way to record your vital statistics by simply asking you to wear a specially designed shirt. The "smart textiles" employ fabrics with built-in electrophysical properties.
The fabrics contain tiny stainless steel wires that can record electric activity within your body, such as the information used for electrocardiograms, when hooked up to the proper medical device. The technology is also potentially capable of recording respiratory activity, body temperature and movement.
Once the reading is taken, it could then be transmitted to your doctor's office by networks similar to those used by mobile phones or directly recorded on your palm pilot via Bluetooth technology.
Such advantages of the WEALTHY technology could be a particular advantage to doctors when treating patients remotely. Patients could receive check-ups at home by simply slipping on the shirt, which could be an important factor in reducing hospital stays and, in turn, overall health care costs.
Researches tested the technology on 15 patients and compared their findings to readings taken by traditional methods used in most hospitals and clinics. The WEALTHY technology proved to be just as accurate as other systems and patients appreciated the comfort of the WEALTHY system.
The most recent findings of the project were presented at the World Congress of Cardiology 2006 in Barcelona, Spain.
The research team included members from Italy, France, Greece, Germany and Switzerland. Medical support for the project was provided by cardiologists at the Coronary Care Unit and Cardiovascular Informatics and Epidemiology Unit of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. The total cost of the project is just under €4 million with around half coming from the European Union.