Research Accomplishment

Research Accomplishment

The third generation Georgia Tech Wearable Motherboard is shown in Figure 1. This design was woven into a single-piece garment spirally integrated into the structure during the fabric production process without any discontinuities at the armhole or the seams using a novel modification in the weaving process. With this innovative deign, there is no need for the “cut and sew” operations to produce a garment from a two-dimensional fabric. This pioneering contribution represents a significant breakthrough in textile engineering because for the first time, a full-fashioned garment has been woven on a weaving machine.

An interconnection technology was developed to transmit information from (and to) sensors mounted at any location on the body thus creating a flexible “bus” structure. T-Connectors — similar to “button clips” used in clothing — are attached to the fibers that serve as a data bus to carry the information from the sensors (e.g., EKG sensors) on the body. The sensors will plug into these connectors and at the other end similar T-Connectors will be used to transmit the information to monitoring equipment or DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) personal status monitor. By making the sensors detachable from the garment, the versatility of the Georgia Tech Smart Shirt has been significantly enhanced. Since shapes and sizes of humans will be different, sensors can be positioned on the right locations for all users and without any constraints being imposed by the Smart Shirt. In essence, the Georgia Tech Smart Shirt can be truly “customized.” Moreover, the Smart Shirt can be laundered without any damage to the sensors themselves. In addition to the fiber optic and specialty fibers that serve as sensors and data bus to carry sensory information from the wearer to the monitoring devices, sensors for monitoring the respiration rate (e.g., Respitrace™ sensors) have been integrated into the structure; this illustrates the capability to directly incorporate sensors into the garment.

Three generations of Woven Wearable Motherboard have been produced and a knitted version of the Wearable Motherboard has also been created. In Figure 1, the lighted optical fibers illustrate that the Georgia Tech Smart Shirt is “armed” and ready to detect projectile penetration. The interconnection technology has been used to integrate sensors for monitoring the following vital signs: temperature, heart rate and respiration rate. In addition, a microphone has been attached to transmit the wearer’s voice data to monitoring locations. Other sensors can be easily integrated into the structure. For instance, a sensor to detect oxygen levels or hazardous gases can be integrated into a variation of the Smart Shirt that will be used by firefighters. This information along with the vital signs can be transmitted to the fire station where personnel can continuously monitor the firefighter’s condition and provide appropriate instructions including ordering the individual to evacuate the scene, if necessary. Thus, this research has led to a truly and fully customizable “Wearable Motherboard” or intelligent garment.

The vital signs monitoring capability has been tested by a subject wearing the garment and measuring the heart rate (EKG) through the sensors and T-Connectors (Figure 2) . In Figure 3 , the EKG trace from the Wearable Motherboard is shown along with the control chart produced from a traditional set-up. Similarly, the wearer’s temperature has been monitored using a thermistor-type sensor. A subject wearing the Georgia Tech Smart Shirt continuously for long periods of time evaluated the garment’s comfort. The subject’s behavior was observed to detect any discomfort and none was detected. The garment was also found to be easy to wear and take-off. For monitoring acutely ill patients who may not be able to wear the Smart Shirt over the head (like a typical undershirt), Velcro and zipper fasteners are used to attach the front and back of the garment creating a garment with full monitoring functionality (Figure 4 and Figure 5 ). Thus, a fully functional and comfortable Wearable Motherboard has been designed, developed and successfully tested for monitoring vital signs.