Smart Clothing: Not for Just Fitness Tracking

Brian Buntz

February 5, 2016

3 Min Read
Smart Clothing: Not for Just Fitness Tracking

While smart clothing has received attention for its fitness tracking potential, the technology can be a powerful tool for gathering clinical trial research.

Brian Buntz

Smart Collection of HexoskinSmart clothing was one of the hottest technologies at CES this year. One of the pioneers in the niche, Hexoskin won the CES 2016 Best in Show and Wearable Tech AwardStuff Magazine proclaimed that Hexoskin technology outperforms traditional wearable devices. Earlier this year, the company announced that its IndieGogo crowdfunding goal was surpassed in 12 hours.

But the company's sensor-embedded smart shirt technology could also be a powerful tool for clinical research, and could be used to gather data related to cardiac and respiratory diseases, sleep disorders, and rehabilitative therapy. Hexoskin technology can monitor variables such as heart rate, breathing, and movement.

"We have been involved in research in since 2012," says the company's CEO Pierre-Alexandre Fournier. "In the past, when you participated in a clinical trial, health metrics were gathered sporadically when you visited the clinical site. Smart clothing enables you to get relevant information nearly continuously."

"I think what is really new is we can get long-term cardiac data using our technology," Fournier says. "You could get that with an implantable, but if you are just recruiting them for a trial, you don't want to implant something. So wearables make more sense. Hexoskin is working to provide clinical-grade data."

Smart clothing can also provide information about the efficacy of drugs when patients in a clinical trial are at home. "We get more data from the trial and potentially discover new uses of what has been tested and we can potentially detect side effects as well," Fournier says.  

The company's technology recently won an endorsement of sources from ERT, a provider of cloud technology for clinical trials. Hexoskin technology will be on display at ERT's Innovation Lab in Boston. "The Innovation Lab enables us to demonstrate this potential with ERT's expert scientists, to remove the barriers that researchers often face, and ultimately to improve the clinical development process using digital health technologies," Fournier says.

"A lot of people that work in clinical trials are still using pen and paper--really traditional ways to get measurements," Fournier says. "This lab from ERT will give pharmaceutical companies and device companies new tools to get more value out of clinical trials."

At CES last month, Hexoskin debuted a new Bluetooth 4.1 connector to its smart shirts that will allow for connectivity with third party application such as Endomondo or MyFitnessPal, and with other devices such as smartwatches or cycling computers. The connector also doubles the technology's maximum battery from 15 hours to 30 hours.

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