Van den Brand pointed out that while his team works on wearable devices as well as smart clothing, garments do offer advantages in certain cases.

"The big advantage of a garment is that it covers a large part of your body which also means that sensing . . . measures over a large part of the human body. If you want to measure a really high-quality ECG signal . . . you have access to the full front and back of the body. You can just choose the optimal size and location of the electrodes while with a wristband that's just not possible," Van den Brand said.

He added, "If you want to monitor running, the way that people move their legs and the joints in their legs . . . you...

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These challenges are being addressed with system-in-foil technology, better known as "printed electronics." This technology is already being used in ECG monitoring devices worn as patches on the body, Van den Brand pointed out. "It is already used for medical devices, so that's a strong argument for also trying to use it here," he said.

In order to protect the electronics, "We laminate a very thin rubbery material on both sides of the electronics," Van den Brand said. "That doesn't influence the mechanical properties, but it does protect the electronics from moisture entering directly on the circuit."

This starts with a thin, rubbery material—with a thickness of 25-micrometers—as a base...

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According to imec, system-in-foil technology was used to make sensors, organic light emitting diodes, solar cells, and passive components.

             
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Aside from printed electronics, rigid components need to be used too. Here, a chip is being assembled on a circuit.

"You start with plastic foils, print on that with conductive inks, and print sensors or actuators. A microcontroller is typically assembed on it," Van den Brand said.

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According to imec, the team showed this integration technology could be used to combine foils with traditional components for LEDs, as an example. 

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While many challenges have been met, imec notes that the washability of the material needs to be increased. Today, the material can be washed 10 times at about 120 degree Fahrenheit.

The team has shown that the base principle and the electronics work. Van den Brand said the next step is making printed sensors, such as electrodes that can take extremely sensitive measurements of ECG signals. The researchers also plan to integrate other types of sensors, like temperature sensors, into clothing.

While imec and the Holst Centre is focused on R&D, the technology platform is available to end...

September 16th, 2016
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Stretchability is another requirement to make smart clothing wearable. According to imec, stretchability was accomplished by working with its associated lab at the University of Ghent, the Center for Microsystems Technology (CMST). Described as a technology "based on meandering structures between the electronic components," this allows electronics to stretch as much as 40% beyond their original length, imec said.

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This photo shows the flexibility of the foil that incorporates both printed and integrated electronics.

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Someday, we all might wear our heart (rhythms) on our sleeves. Smart clothing is becoming a reality, thanks to major advancements in technology. Here are the hurdles researchers have cleared to make smart garments possible. 

Wearables research being conducted by imec and the Holst Centre in Eindhoven, Netherlands is focused on creating smart textiles. The possibilities of this research are exciting. As imec pointed out, "Textile[s] are the perfect platform for wearable electronics: you may forget to wear your smart watch, but you will never forget to wear your (sensor) T-shirt."...

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FDA has made it clear that manufacturers truly can use adaptive design in medical device trials. An expert shares the benefits of adaptive design and offers advice to companies considering it.

Marie Thibault

In late July, FDA issued its final guidance on using adaptive designs for medical device trials, a followup to the agency's draft guidance on the topic in May 2015. MD+DI asked Vicki Anastasi, vice president and global head of Medical Devices & Diagnostics Research at ...

September 16th, 2016
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