We said smart clothing would take off in 2015 but we'll hold our hands up and admit that's one we didn't get right. While you won't find a heart rate monitoring running shirt in your local sports shop just yet, the companies making them are making advances in other areas.
Hexoskin, one of the early players in the quest to bring smart clothing to the masses has successfully won a contract with the Canadian Space Agency to develop the On Astronaut Wireless Sensor, which could have major benefits for monitoring the vitals of crew members involved in long haul space travel.
The cutting-edge OAWSS wireless sensors can be attached to the body using a biocompatible adhesive to deliver data in real time. It's set to make up part of the agency's Advanced Crew Medical System and according to Hexoskin CEO Pierre Alexandre Fournier is a unique wireless body sensor platform that will provide, "long-term vital signs monitoring with a high level of accuracy, reliability and configurability."
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This isn't the first time the startup has worked with the CSA having developed the Astroskin upper body shirt and headband, which has been used in studies and evaluations to measure vitals like sleep activity. It's likely the OAWSS will be integrated into the Astroskin to remotely monitor crew health and aid making a diagnosis or developing a treatment plan during missions. According to Fournier it will be useful for "many space groups within the CSA, including the Life Sciences and Space Medicine groups."
Hexoskin has been working on smart clothing since 2006 and successfully crowdfunded its Hexoskin sports clothing range in 2013 that's capable of monitoring breathing rate, heart rate, track activity and sleep.
2016 is set to be a big year for smart clothing with companies like Clothing+ Peak+ and startups like Lumo primed to launch more affordable garments in the next twelve months. You can check out our Wareable 50 watchlist to see the other big trends we expect to see in wearable tech in 2016.