In the 18th & 19th century, a smart dresser was also called a dandy and the term normally implied a middle-class man who dressed to appear that he was in high society. A female was called a dandizette. As in most modern terms, dressing in smart clothing is unisex and the meaning of a smart dresser will be totally redefined.
Among the things that make smart clothing or a smart garment are sensors. In a recent report, market research firm Gartner assumes that by 2023, device makers will focus on offering smaller, clinical-grade sensors for health wearables to increase monitoring accuracy by 20%. Gartner has also predicted that smart garments will increase from almost nothing in 2014 to 19 million shipments in 2022. Other researchers, such as Statista, the featured image source, show even higher growth.
A team at Draper and the University of Colorado Boulder provide an excellent example of how this can occur. After determining that today’s wearable sensor systems do not perform as well in monitoring heart rates as traditional electrodes to detect the full electrocardiogram (ECG) waveform, they initiated an effort to improve the situation. The team ruled out conductive ink-based electrodes and planar-fashionable circuit boards (P-FCBs), which can be printed onto the fabric surface, for a variety of reasons, including P-FCBs’ requirement for advanced manufacturing methods to produce the conductive paste.
The team’s solution involves fabricating dry electrodes that are directly integrated in clothing. The sensing device conforms to the skin and avoids noise and artifact issues that normally occur due to the motion of similar dry electrodes across the skin. After validation tests, including ECG monitoring, comfort surveys with human subjects, stretch testing and wash cycling, the device’s performance matched the traditional electrode’s ability to detect the full ECG waveform.