Research suggests clothes could capture body movements

4th July 2024
Caitlin Gittins

New research published by the Universities of Bristol and Bath suggest that clothing might soon be capable of capturing and recording body movement.

Harmless low voltages are channelled through conductive threads sewn into garment seams to form electrical circuits. These threads alter their resistance with the wearer's movements. This innovation paves the way for digital clothing capable of sensing and recording movements far more precisely than current smartphones and smartwatches.

The paper, presented at the Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) conference in Copenhagen on the 3rd July, lays the groundwork for e-textile designers and clothing manufacturers to create advanced garments that could revolutionise exercise, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation.

Professor Mike Fraser of the University of Bristol’s School of Computer Science said: "We're excited by the opportunity for clothing manufacturers to implement our designs in sleeves and other garment seams.

“We've shown that common overlocked seams in standard garment constructions can do a good job of sensing movement. The design avoids the need for a separate power source by pairing the seam with a charging coil, drawing the energy wirelessly from a mobile phone placed in the pocket.

“This means advanced motion sensing garments could be made without altering existing manufacturing processes.

"We have also shown that smartphone apps using advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques can use this movement data to match body movement to specific postures or gestures such as physiotherapeutic exercises."


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