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Nov 7, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Hexoskin – a smart t-shirt capable of monitoring lung diseases

Monitoring the breathing of patients suffering from chronic bronchitis or emphysema thanks to a simple connected t-shirt is the promise of a new smart item of clothing called Hexoskin that was recently unveiled by a team of researchers. It is light and flexible, and could improve both the monitoring of symptoms and the quality of life of patients.

64 million people throughout the world suffer from some sort of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Patients of this kind require strict medical attention to prevent the symptoms – such as coughing and lack of breath – from getting worse. It is not always easy for doctors to monitor the breathing of patients outside of hospital conditions, but this could all be about to change thanks to the Hexoskin t-shirt – a smart item of clothing that was unveiled at the 'European Respiratory Society International Congress, according to French website 'Objet Connecté'.


T-shirt capable of monitoring breathing


To date, Hexoskin has been used to measure the performance of athletes, but it could also be put to good use in the health sector. The connected t-shirt is capable of measuring the heartbeat but also monitoring breathing by analysing the movements of the torso and the abdomen. 

The researchers gave the smart item of clothing to around 15 volunteers to monitor their breathing in a range of conditions – seated, upright, lying down or when moving.


Reliable data


The scientists then compared the data gathered by the t-shirt with what can be obtained from traditional respiratory measuring equipment, including a mask and a heavy rucksack. 

Their experiment showed that the Hexoskin t-shirt was capable of accurately monitoring human pulmonary activity, with the results obtained by the two different methods of measurement being virtually identical.


A minor breakthrough for sufferers


Compared with traditional measuring equipment, Hexoskin has one main advantage – its format. It is lighter, less cumbersome to wear and does not prevent patients from carrying out any activities.

In the long term, this connected item of clothing could therefore significantly improve the quality of life of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses. The scientists are convinced of the value it could have to the health sector and as such are looking to carry out further tests, this time on patients suffering from COPD.


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