Assignment Wearable Technology in the Medical Industry: Improving Posture Using Smart Fabric?

Hello and thank you for viewing this post! Being here, you’re most likely as intrigued by the idea of “Smart Fabric” as was I; moreover, how a smart fabric could possibly improve our posture.

Why Good Posture is Important

A healthy back is important for our movement and stability, in which adopting good posture maintains a healthy back, whilst poor posture causes back and neck pain which over time can develop into Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 356,910 cases of MSDs in 2015 that required days away from work, in which 80% of cases occurred to private industry workers, including labourers and heavy-duty vehicle drivers.

Heavy-Duty-Vehicle
Musculoskeletal disorders can develop in professions with long-periods of poor posture, such as heavy-duty vehicle drivers. (Image Source)

Professions such as these, that put consistent strain on the back, have guidelines for back health such as the U.K. Health and Safety Executive guidelines for Manuel handling; however, what about back health in other professions or general back health irrespective of the workplace?

There are principles, such as the U.K. NHS guide to posture mistakes and fixes or products which can help, such as Smart beds or ergonomic office chairs; but personally, even with these methods, long periods behind the desk or lengthy commutes still result in back and neck strain.

Durbhaka (2016) proposes a smart fabric product as a preventative solution of poor posture, which detects and adapts to changes in posture and points of strain, whilst being easily transportable with specificity to each user.

Smart Fabric Explained

To understand the smart fabric technology more, let’s explore what the concept is; after all, the technology is still in a prototyping phase, in which having a published U.S. patent application with the future aim of launching to the wearable technology marketplace.

Patent Publication Number: US 20160331320 A1

The technologies architecture is built-in to the clothing interior and consists of a series of sensors, controllers and air cartridges. An accelerometer is combined with various load sensors to record movement data, which are analysed by a decision support system (DSS).

Accelerometer
An Accelerometer is used to record movement data. (Image Source)
Sitting Posture Readings
Movement data for analyses by decision support system. (Image Source)

Air cartridges are located around key pressure areas of relevancy to each garment (upper body or lower body), in which the air flow to the cartridges is regulated by the DSS and a PID controller; therefore, the air cartridges inflate or deflate to regulate the users posture, with an accuracy of 87%.

Proof of Concept
Proof of concept showing architecture (left) and air regulation (right). (Image Source)

The Future Feasibility of the Product

In my opinion, whilst there are substitutes to this product in other markets, it leads uniquity and innovation to the wearable technology market, with potential to be a successful disruptive technology; however, at this stage in the lifecycle there’s much ambiguity, which will remain until a working prototype is released with further research. Watch this space! When further details are released I’ll post a follow-up.

I’ve combined some of my current overall opinions of the product into a SWOT analysis format below, please take a look and leave a comment with your opinion of the product, as I love a discussion!

SWOT Smart Fabric
Personal Opinions of Smart Fabric organized into a SWOT analysis format. (Background Image Source)

Thank you for reading, please like and share if you’ve enjoyed reading and be sure to follow me here or on my other platforms.

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