Article: Bio-sensing Textiles

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In recent years much progress has been made in the integration of physical transducers into clothing e.g. breathing rate, heart rate and temperature [1]. The integration of chemical sensing into textiles adds a new dimension to the field of smart clothing. Wearable chemical sensors may be used to provide valuable information about the wearer’s health, monitoring the wearer during their daily routine within their natural environment. In addition to physiological measurements chemical sensors may also be used to monitor the wearer’s surrounding environment, identifying safety concerns and detecting threats. Whether the clothes are looking into the wearer’s personal health status or looking out into the surroundings, chemical sensing calls for a novel approach to sensor and textile integration. In contrast to physical sensors, chemical sensors and biosensors depend on selective reactions happening at an active surface which must be directly exposed to a sample. Therefore issues of fluid handling, calibration and safety must be considered. This paper discusses the constraints in integrating chemical sensors into a textile substrate. Methods of fluid control using inherently conducting polymers (ICPs) are discussed and a pH textile sensor is presented. This sensor uses colorimetric techniques using LEDs controlled by a wireless platform. Some of the potential applications of wearable chemical sensors are discussed.

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