Wearable technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, enabling athletes to measure and track performance or provide motivation for people of all ages and abilities to stay more active. And now, more advanced technology is being integrated into clothing that could have important applications beyond its design intent; to closely monitor an astronaut’s vital signs while on a long-term space mission.
A tech company based out of Montreal has designed the first wearable health monitoring shirt, Astroskin, which will collect data from astronauts in space, allowing scientists to track the effect being in space for prolonged periods of time takes on the human body. Carré Technologies recently signed a contract to dress Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques on the upcoming 2018-2019 mission to the International Space Station. Sensors will record heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, skin temperature, blood oxygen and physical activity.
And what’s more, the Canadian Space Agency has agreed to fund further research and development for applications outside of space exploration. Health wearables imbedded in close-fitting clothing could help doctors track surgical patients during recovery or elderly adults, especially those who may be resistant to wearing a tracking device on the wrist or neck. Seniors with dementia could be monitored by caregivers or healthcare professionals without causing unnecessary distress or agitation. The technology works in a way that does not require a large time commitment or impede freedom of movement. It could also have applications for workers in a high-risk situation such as mines, or in factories as well as provide remote health care for people with chronic health problems that are home-bound or live in remote areas.
At present, in addition to monitoring astronauts, elite athletes utilize this technology to track their health data and improve performance. The men’s and women’s smart tops can be ordered starting at a price tag of $399; a smartphone app or online dashboard allows users to view their fitness and health diary quickly and easily. Training sessions are recorded and users can track performance over time as well as receive useful information about sleep and resting habits.