This Stretchy Cloth Could Lead to Heart Rate-Monitoring Underwear

By Bryan Lufkin on at

Here’s new tech that’ll make wearables as non-invasive as a plaster. Japanese researchers have created a printable conducive ink on cloth, which means your boxer briefs or sports bra could one day track your heart rate (among other things).

In an effort to make electronic wearables more, well, wearable, a team at the University of Tokyo developed the ink and announced it yesterday. In a single-step process, electrodes and wires can be printed on both surfaces of the textile using the wonder ink. This new super cloth is also way softer and stretchier than today’s harder, more rigid wearables and printed electronics.Even when stretched to three times its length, the ink remained highly conducive.

This new material is somewhat similar to the conducive yarn teased at Google I/O this year, which Levi’s is reportedly using to make your jeans a giant touchpad. The goal there is to swipe, pinch, tap, and drag your fingers across these smart threads to answer calls or turn off lights, just like you would on a mousepad or smartphone. (Read about our hands-on with this magic fabric here.)

The Tokyo researchers’ ink, though, seems a lot stretchier and allows manufacturers to make wearables that’ll be as skintight as fake tattoos. Yep, that’s right. Tech tattoos.

The future is now.

This Stretchy Cloth Could Lead to Heart Rate-Monitoring Underwear

[University of Tokyo via TechCrunch]

Image credits Someya Laboratory