Researchers Create Motion-Sensing Clothes For More Accurate Tracking

A team of researchers have found that strategically place conductive thread can be used to accurately track body motion, with the potential to transform fitness and physio at home.

The University of Bath research team, led by PhD student Olivia Ruston presented the body tracking clothing at a conference on interactive systems and claimed it could pick up subtle movements that are not currently picked up by fitness trackers.

Most fitness trackers are wristbands or watches, and so are best used to detecting steps and wrist movements, with other sensors sometimes used on the ankles in certain devices.

However, by placing flexible conductive sensors in clothes, more subtle movements and actions could be detected, which could allow for better use of technology in physiotherapy and training.

E-textiles, or smart clothing with sensors and technology woven into them, have been explored for quite some time as an ideal aid to fitness, that can be used to track and record movements with the help of a computer or smart device.

The University of Bath study explored specifically how the stitching and seams that were placed on the garment matter, as different types of stitches allow for different conductors to be used and for different levels of accuracy in the sensors.

However, for this technology to move away from the lab and onto sportswear racks, there needs to be a connection between fashion designers and electronics engineers, so they can find the best methods to integrate technology and fashion together.

The head of the Computer Science department, Professor Mike Fraser, noted that these advances could potentially influence how activewear fashion looks in the future.