Sudden heart failure is the number one cause of death in the western world, and cardiac insufficiency (a weakness of the heart) affects 1.3 million people in Germany alone. Metrax GmbH, Rottweil, Germany, manufacturer of defibrillators, developed a textile harness with integrated dry electrodes for heart monitoring and (in emergencies) defibrillation to combat these serious issues. The only problem is that patients (particularly the elderly) won’t wear a hot, dirty and uncomfortable harness 24 hours a day, despite its life-saving technological benefits.
Enter the Hohenstein Institute, the Bönnigheim, Germany, textile research group with a plan to find a solution that blends technology and comfort. In partnership with Metrax GmbH, the Hohenstein Institute is using 3D scanning data of target groups’ body proportions to find the right fit. The challenging research must find a harness that is breathable, flexible, doesn’t irritate skin, is easy to take off and put on, can be frequently washed in a home washing machine and positions the dry electrodes in the appropriate locations for heart monitoring or stimulation. The Institute is “confident that they will be able to meet the high, and to some extent opposing, specifications for a system of this kind” with patient comfort at heart.