ETH Zurich researchers develop textile sensor to detect exhaustion

Professor Carlo Menon’s research group at ETH Zurich has created a brand-new smart textile sensor that can gauge how worn out a person becomes when engaging in physical activity. This invention may be able to stop accidents brought on by physical exertion injuries.

The sensor was built inside a pair of athletic leggings by the researchers, enabling users to observe in real-time when they are nearing their limit and when to take a break. According to a news statement from ETH Zurich, the sensor is constructed of a specific kind of yarn that tracks how tiredness affects a person’s gait, including shortening of strides and abnormal movement patterns. without the wearer even realising it,” Menon added.

The structure of the sensor is distinctive, with a spiralled inner fibre consisting of conductive, elastic rubber wound around a rigid wire covered in a thin layer of plastic. Stretchy running pants with an embedded sensor’s thigh region will stretch and slacken in time with the wearer’s strides, changing the electric field and capacitor charge. This enables the sensor to accurately record bodily movements without the wearer even realising it.

These two fibres generate an electric field and serve as electrodes. An electric charge may be stored in them when combined, according to Tyler Cuthbert, a postdoc in Menon’s team.Researchers noticed athletes running while sporting sporty

“We can record body movements because the sensor is so close to the body.” As the runners grew increasingly exhausted, the sensor-equipped leggings captured how the electric signals changed. They then used this pattern to create a model that forecasts degrees of tiredness, which they may apply to their brand-new textile sensor.

The sensor was given a loop antenna made of conducting yarn that was sewed directly onto the leggings so that it could transmit electrical impulses to a smartphone wirelessly, as was done by the researchers. The electrical signal is transmitted from the sensor to the antenna at a specific frequency that can be picked up by a smartphone. A smartphone app records and performs a real-time evaluation of the signal pattern produced by the wearer’s motions, which has a continuously fluctuating frequency.

The researchers are currently putting their prototype to use to create leggings equipped with the sensor and recorded how the electric signals changed as the runners got more tired. They then turned this pattern into a model that can predict exhaustion levels, which can be used for their novel textile sensor.

To enable the sensor to send electrical signals wirelessly to a a market-ready product and have applied for one of ETH Zurich’s Pioneer Fellowships to help achieve this goal. As per Menon, potential applications of the sensor could go beyond sports to the workplace to prevent exhaustion-related injuries, as well as in rehabilitation medicine.



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