MIT Researchers Create Smart Textile That Predicts Movements
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created an unusual kind of textile; one with inbuilt pressure sensors.
For their experiments, the team used a specifically-designed plastic yarn that had pressure sensors woven into the layers, dubbed 3DKnITS. This novel material was used to make smart shoes and mats, with a hardware and software system used alongside the products to identify and monitor a user’s movements, predicting their motions to allow the form-fitting material to move with the wearer.
Researchers said tests of the sensor-embedded materials showed the system was able to classify physical activities like walking, running and pushups with 99.6% accuracy, as well as seven yoga poses with 98.7% accuracy.
Irmandy Wicaksono, lead author of a paper presenting 3DKnITS, said the rapidity and customizable nature of this fabrication process lend itself well to large-scale manufacturing, and a variety of industries and scenarios.
“With digital knitting, you have this freedom to design your own patterns and also integrate sensors within the structure itself, so it becomes seamless and comfortable, and you can develop it based on the shape of your body,” Wicaksono said.
Possible use cases include health care and rehabilitation, for instance monitoring the gait of a patient in physiotherapy following a procedure or accident, or a pressure monitor for diabetic patients to prevent ulcers from forming.
The team also said the textile could have applications in enhancing video game interface. They tested the material on a user playing Minecraft where they found the smart textile could predict where the player wanted to move, as well as if they wanted to run, walk or jump.
The smart textile design will be showcased at the upcoming IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference.