Xenoma builds smart clothing for dementia patients

The pajamas can detect signs of movement and stress without bulky sensors.

Smart fabric company Xenoma is looking for ways to integrate its technology into our lives, specifically in medical scenarios. The Japanese firm is showing off a set of smart pajamas that can be worn by patients in a hospital, with a specific focus on dementia patients. The idea is that, rather than confining people to rooms or keeping them under observation, the clothing can do the job automatically.

Embedded in both the shirt and pants are cloth sensors that have been customized to pick up on specific inputs tailored to each item of clothing. The circuits running along the hips and legs are designed to detect motion, so professionals know when the wearer is moving. The technology in the shirt, meanwhile, is designed to monitor vital signs such as breathing, while an additional pair of ports on the sternum can be connected to an ECG, should it be required.

One of the most interesting innovations is the fabric sensors themselves, which don't require gel or liquid contact to maintain conductivity with the skin. Even more importantly, the company claims that the cloth can be washed more than 100 times before showing signs of wear, making it as hardy as what's used in regular clothes.

At the top of the chest is an Iron Man-style plastic disc that holds the battery, Bluetooth LE unit and an accelerometer and gyroscope. The two-inch-diameter device should last for up to eight hours on a charge, although it'll need to run for far longer than that in clinical scenarios. Speaking of which, Xenoma will soon be conducting a limited clinical trial of the clothing with an as-yet unnamed German hospital.

The company hopes that the hardware will be ready for medical use by 2020, at which point the cost per garment will be less than $100. Of course, that's still a couple of years away, but it bodes well for a future where hospitals feel like a friendlier place for patients.

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