New Zealand smart fabrics developer Footfalls & Heartbeats has embarked on the development of a bandage that could potentially measure its own tightness and convey information to medical staff via color changes, noise or another kind of alert.
Possible applications are in the care of the elderly; for injury monitoring of workers in high-risk environments, such as military; medical monitoring during, such tests as electrocardiograms; infant monitoring; pressure sensing in wheelchairs and beds; and performance monitoring for athletes.
Beyond health, Footfalls & Heartbeats technology also has the potential to measure the mechanical stress in composite structures such as satellites, aircraft wings, wind turbine blades, yacht hulls and foils, and high-performance car chassis.
The company has developed a proprietary process for manufacturing intelligent textiles, in which the textile itself is the sensor. The technology combines mathematically determined textile structures using electrically conductive yarn to form a repeatable and sensitive sensor network. The technology uses the three-dimensional complexity of a textile structure, including interactions of fibers within the yarn itself, to control electrical resistance. The process allows control and manipulation of both yarn-to-yarn interaction and the movement of the micro-mechanical structures that form the basis of knitted fabrics.