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An Offbeat Suit With Electronic Monitor

Researchers from the University of South Australia have been using garment integrated electronic technology to develop smart garments that, when placed on electronic hangers , enable monitored data to be downloaded in a heartbeat to a computer in your wardrobe, and then be recharged ready for wearing.

Imagine wearing a smart T-shirt or a suit embedded with tiny electronics that can monitor your heart or respiratory function wirelessly. When dirty, you take it off and throw it in the wash or have it dry-cleaned.

And theres no need to worry about your heart skipping a beat while your garment is being cleaned, according to researcher and Director of UniSAs Wearable Computer Laboratory, Professor Bruce Thomas.

For continuous monitoring, you can take off one garment and put on another smart garment so, instead of having just one heart monitor, you can have a wardrobe of them, Prof Thomas said.

Prof Thomas points out that his researchers were not the first to think of this technology, but were the first worldwide to develop smart garment management technology that works, he said.

The wardrobe has a touch screen on the outside and conductive metal bands spanning the hanging rail inside, with wires connecting it to a computer in the base of the wardrobe. When we place electronic hangers, each with their own ID and metal connection, on the rail, it detects the hangers and smart garments incorporating the conductive material and integrated electronics, Prof Thomas said.

Through this connection, the computer identifies, for example, that hanger 123 has coat 45 on it, which has stored heart monitoring data that needs to be downloaded and the hanger recharged, he said.

Garments with communication technology only and a wireless connection enable users to access heart monitoring through a simple blue tooth or zigbee network, eliminating the need for expensive heart monitoring equipment to b
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