More and more we're hearing about clothing made from smart fabrics being used in the field of medicine, to monitor patients wearing such garments. One of the latest examples is the "intelligent T-shirt," designed by scientists at Spain's Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). It can remotely monitor a person's temperature, heart rate, activity level, position and location.

The prototype shirt is washable and incorporates electrodes that detect bioelectric power, such as that created by the beating of the heart - an electrocardiogram can be obtained using these electrodes.

It also features a removable device that includes a thermometer and accelerometer. These are used to measure the patient's body temperature, along with their position (such as whether they're reclining or standing, for instance) and their level of physical activity.

Another device, which the researchers plan on building into the shirt, receives signals from a network of transmitters located throughout the hospital. It proceeds to wirelessly send information about those signals to a central information management system, which applies an algorithm to establish the wearer's location within the building. It has a two-meter (6.6-foot) margin of error.

Down the road, the UC3M team believe that the shirt could be used not only within hospitals, but also to remotely monitor patients in their homes. Alarms built into the T-shirt could notify doctors or other hospital personnel when the patient's heart rate exceeds a given limit, or when their body temperature drops significantly below the normal 37C (98.6F).

Similar projects have included Philips' patient-monitoring bras, briefs and waist belts, and BIOTEX's clothing that analyzes bodily fluids.

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