Smart Yarn Detects Fatigue in Wearers

The electronic thread can be sewn into garments and alert wearers when to take a break

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

March 29, 2023

2 Min Read
ETH Zurich

A new electronic yarn can measure a wearer’s exhaustion levels during exercise, and warn users when to take a break.

The yarn was developed by researchers at ETH Zurich and consists of two fibers, one made of a conductive, elastic rubber and one made of rigid, thin plastic. 

“These two fibers act as electrodes and create an electric field,” said researcher Tyler Cuthbert. “Together, they form a capacitor that can hold an electric charge.”

The electric charge changes depending on a wearer’s movement and is used to identify when a user’s pace changes in response to fatigue – typically by strides shortening or becoming irregular. 

“Since the sensor is located so close to the body, we can capture body movements very precisely without the wearer even noticing,” said study lead Carlo Menon.

This yarn can be sewn directly into workout clothes, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture than other products on the market with electronic components retrofitted in.

In trials, the textile sensor was integrated into a pair of sports leggings, stretching and relaxing at different rhythms as a wearer runs and analyzing subtle changes in running form.

ETH Zurich has filed a patent for the design, and the team is working to get the prototype ready for commercialization. Potential applications include sports and in the workplace – to prevent exhaustion-​related injuries – as well as to rehabilitation medicine.

“Our goal is to make the manufacture of smart clothing cost-​effective and thus make it available to a broader public,” Menon said. 

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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