AGM followed by Talk: Textile Wearables for Medical and Healthcare Applications

When: 9th Oct 2013, 19:00 - 9th Oct 2013, 21:00
Where: Manchester Conference Centre, Days Hotel University of Manchester North Campus, Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3BB
Town/City: Manchester
Organiser: BCS Health Northern Specialist Group
Further Information: Further Information

Since the dawn of the mankind textiles have been worn by humans to cover their body.  At the very beginning textiles were used to provide warmth and protection.  Later a degree of modesty was achieved by actually wearing textiles; these were the mankind’s very first wearables. 

The next evolutionary step was the use of these first wearables to deliver a statement about sophistication and wealth.  However, during the last two centuries, there has been considerable interest in more sophisticated technologies been integrated with textiles, such as moisture management, water proofing, fire retardancy, impact resistance, and passive compression for medical applications. 

Currently a new generation of wearables are been developed by fusing electrical, and micro-electronic, technologies with textiles. 

There are a number of approaches to the production of electrical and electronic textiles. These include inserting pre-packaged electronics into pockets, stitching components to the surface, integrating functionality using conductive threads, using printing technology, or integrating electronics into belts or straps. However, the ultimate aim would be to integrate electronic functionality into textiles without compromising the required textile characteristics of softness, flexibility, and conformability. In addition, to minimise costs, it is essential that electronic textiles can be produced on conventional textile equipment.

One approach is to encapsulate semi-conductor chips within the fibres of yarns. As a textile conforms to a body-shape, some regions bend and some go into shear deformation. Both factors are important for drape and conformability. Knitted and woven textiles are able to conform to a shape as they bend and shear. For example, paper can bend but, as it cannot shear, it buckles and crumples rather than conform to a shape.

The aim of the Presentation is to report a new platform technology developed by the Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG) at Nottingham Trent University, which involves the packaging of miniature semiconductor sensors, actuators, micro controllers and their interconnection within polymer micro-pods that will provide a flexible hermetic seal for mechanical, thermal, and electrical protection, whilst free fibres between pods will ensure that, where required, the textile characteristics of the resultant fabrics are retained. 

Prototypes of electronically functional yarns with fully integrated systems for light therapies, the measurement of temperature, humidity, pressure, position and orientation are being developed. Temperature and humidity sensors could be used for ambulatory body measurement in medicine. Pressure measurement sensors could be used in garments for the treatment of Lymphoedema, ulcers, and burns. Position and orientation measurement devices could be used to assist in restoring limb-function for patients in the treatment of Strokes.

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