This exciting research project will develop innovative optical sensing systems within textiles by exploiting electronic yarn (E-yarn) technology, which allows for small scale electronic components to be embedded within yarns. By embedding optical systems and sensors within the fibres of textiles in this manner, sensing systems can be created that will allow for the measurement of key physiological parameters including pulse rate (PR), pulse rate variability (PRV), and partial pressure of oxygen in the blood (pO2). Ultimately such technology my even allow for the characterisation of more complex parameters including moisture content or biomarkers in sweat.
While E-yarns with optical sources and sensors have been created in the past, the knowledge necessary to fully characterise the performance of the optical sensor systems once embedded within textile structures needs to be established, in order to allow for the correct design and engineering of photonic sensing systems (and ultimately products). For example, light propagation through certain textile structures may lead to interference and limit the density of sensors. These important factors must be fully understood.
Once optical E-yarns have been developed, and their behaviour in different textile structures has been fully understood, the project will focus on the design, characterisation, and testing of different sensing textile garments. While it is envisioned that a glove capable of PR, PRV, and pO2 measurements would be designed in the first instance it is expected that the research would be expanded to include the creation of additional next generation intelligent garments.