Fiber material

A flexible and wearable smart health monitoring system with new fiber material

As a new type of portable electronic device, the flexible and portable electronic system has wide applications in human-computer interaction, health monitoring and medical care. Portable electronic systems require strong material to provide durability and stability, and a wide range of stresses to expand applications. The fibrous material shows promise as an essential component of high-performance portable electronic devices. However, it remains difficult to manufacture fibrous materials having simultaneously high mechanical strength and tensile properties.

To solve this problem, Professor Wang Xuewen from a team of scholars from Huang Wei at Northwestern Polytechnic University developed a flexible and wearable smart health monitoring system. This intelligent “electronic garment” can realize real-time monitoring of body tremor, pulse, breath, gesture and six kinds of human movement postures. The relevant results have been published in the International Authoritative Journal Advanced Materials.

Ultra-robust and expandable fibrous mechanical sensors. Courtesy of Northwestern Polytechnic University

Gao Jiuwei, PhD, explained that the fibrous material has several advantages over traditional metallic materials and films, including low weight, high elasticity, and easy processing. “A conductive fiber sensor made with our new fibrous material as the inner core can demonstrate both high mechanical strength (≈17.6 MPa) and excellent tensile properties (≈700%), as well as a range of ultra-wide operation from 0.0075% to 400%,” he adds.

The team, in cooperation with Professor Song Weitao from the Beijing Institute of Technology, also implanted high-performance fiber strain sensors into clothing to make a smart, flexible and wearable health monitoring system. “It is amazing that our sensor can monitor various human movements and postures in real time, which will help promote the development of health assessment and disease diagnosis technologies with intelligence, remoteness, efficiency and accuracy,” said Professor Wang.

Fiber strain sensor performance and human health monitoring applications.  Courtesy of Northwestern Polytechnic University

Fiber strain sensor performance and human health monitoring applications. Courtesy of Northwestern Polytechnic University

Professor Wang’s team has long focused on researching flexible sensing materials as well as exploring their applications in emerging strategic areas, such as healthcare and human-computer interaction. They are studying new ideas to improve the efficiency and quality of the transmission and processing of medical information through intelligent detection systems.

The author is Wang Fanhua, Institute of Flexible Electronics of North West Polytechnic University.