eHealthMedical InnovationsMobile HealthTechnology

Hexoskin: A Second Skin for the Quantified Athlete and Maybe Even You!

2 Mins read

(Editor’s Note: John Nosta writes for Forbes under the heading, “Health Critical”)

(Editor’s Note: John Nosta writes for Forbes under the heading, “Health Critical”)

The advances of digital health have resulted in advances in medicine and the personal quest for health and wellness. Today, advances in monitoring and tracking of key physiologic data have yielded new strides in conditioning for the serious athlete.  But that’s only the beginning.  The implications for the everyday athlete and individuals with medical conditions are also very important here too.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the beginning.

Since 2006, a group in Montreal has been developing and refining a wearable body metrics system they call Hexoskin, testing it on themselves as they run, cycle, ski or work out daily.


Hexoskin–a sports garment with build-in sensors

Their vision has grown beyond the personal, and they have imagined a whole host of uses their smart shirt, with its all-textile sensors, could be put to. Because it records your heart rate, activity, breathing rate and – uniquely – your breathing volume, streaming the data to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, it can provide many other metrics as calculations or estimates, making it the perfect tool for high-performance sports training. Right now, several amateur, professional and Olympic athletes, as well as their coaches, have beta-tested Hexoskin – in advance of its official launch later this year – and have learned things about their bodily reflexes they were completely unaware of.

For some time now, the Hexoskin team has also been working closely with the Canadian Space Agency, developing a version to be used for remote health monitoring of astronauts. The same sensors used in the Hexoskin garment will link space mission crewmembers with health professionals on the ground, sharing their vital signs in real time. It is Hexoskin’s ability to measure actual physiological responses in context, in a completely unobtrusive and non-invasive manner, that is grabbing the attention of scientists at several prestigious American and Canadian universities for their research in occupational and environmental medicine. Members of the Quantified Self movement also appreciate this ability and, not surprisingly, Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, Hexoskin’s CEO, has been involved with the movement for several years. For this reason, Hexoskin is designed to be an Open Data device, and its API has already been opened to a select group of developers.

Beyond the domain of the serious athlete, Hexoskin technology has already been licensed to clothing manufacturers, and the company wants to expand availability of affordable smart clothes for health tracking. With this aim, they are currently discussing brand partnerships with major clothing manufacturers with a global presence. Now this is where it gets interesting–in the future, in addition to sports, they see their smart clothes being used for preventive and personalized medicine, aging at home, and a wide range of other applications. They envision a future where constant, passive health monitoring through smart clothes will feed in to big data applications and predictive analytics. These wearable sensors will bring a flow of personal data that will permanently change the way medicine is practiced.

So, move over Calvin Klein and Fruit of the Loom, the undergarment market might get very interesting–and very healthy too!

Original Post

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