How Smart is Your T-Shirt?

By Hugh Markey

One of the most popular uses for Smart Watches and other devices is cardio monitoring during exercise. Users can quickly check their pulse as they run down the road or bike around the block, giving feedback on physical stressors. But what about the rest of the time when things such as stress affect not only heart rate but brain function?

A group of URI Engineering graduate students just won the best poster award as they presented a way to  monitor these signals, and also help the wearer adjust them to a healthier state of mind and body. Abdullah Al Rumon, Suparna Veeturi, Mehmet Seckin, Dhaval Solanki, and Kunal Mankodiya have developed “Nisshash: a Smart T-Shirt for Guided Breathing Exercises,” which they recently presented at the 2023 International Conference on Smart Computing in Nashville, Tennessee. The National Science Foundation paid for the students’ travel.

“There are sensors that are in direct contact with the body, so that we get the most accurate results in real time. There’s a correlation between health and stress. The system uses a vital sign monitoring system within a smart textile. Textile electrodes or sensors can be created and put on to normal daily clothing materials.” Says Abdullah Al Rumon.

“When you are stressed, your heart and respiration rates increase and there’s a good correlation that if you can control these rates, it has an impact on your overall body,” said Suparna Veeturi. If the t-shirt signals that vital signs are becoming excessive, a user can follow special techniques to reduce the negative impacts. Using a variety of electronic devices such as a laptop or Smart Phone, the user can perform meditation techniques tailored to the wearer to reduce the heart rate in real time. “We can make highly personalized breathing application solutions where a person feeling stress can open the app and go through breathing exercises to acquire the maximum amount of peace.”