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T-shirt monitors respiratory rate

Projects | September 1, 2017 | By:

A team of scientists from Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and its Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers has created a T-shirt that monitors breathing rates, paving the way for clothing that could be used to diagnose and monitor respiratory illnesses. Photo: Stepan Gorgutsa.

Researchers at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, have developed a technology that could help people who suffer from respiratory conditions including asthma, sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

They created a smart T-shirt that monitors a person’s respiratory rate in real time. Best of all, it uses an antenna sewn into the shirt at chest level, eliminating the need for wires, electrodes or sensors to be attached to the body. The antenna is made of a hollow optical fiber and features a thin layer of silver on its inner surface. The fiber’s exterior is covered in a polymer that protects it from the environment.

It works by sensing and transmitting signals created by respiratory movement. As the wearer breathes in, the fiber senses the increase in both thorax circumference and the volume of air in the lungs; the simple oscillations that occur with each breath are sufficient for the fiber to sense respiratory rate. The data from the shirt can be sent to a smartphone or computer.

As comfortable and easy to wear as any traditional T-shirt, the garment can monitor breathing rates whether the user is sitting, standing, lying down or moving around.

It’s also made to last: The antenna withstands water and detergent, even after 20 washes. For more, visit

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