A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a programmable fiber with digital capabilities that can sense, store, analyze, and gather activities after it’s woven into fabric. Yoel Fink, professor and principal investigator at the Research Laboratory of Electronics and a senior author on the study, says that these digital fibers not only enhance the possibilities of uncovering the context of hidden patterns in a human body, but cna also be used to monitor physical performance, medical inference, as well as help detect diseases at an early stage. Read more for additional pictures and information.
These digital fibers aren’t one time use, but can be sewn into fabrics and washed a minimum of 10-times without issue. They consists of hundreds of square silicon microscale digital chips that were placed on a platform and then used to create a polymer fiber that is so thin and flexible it can be passed through a needle. What kind of information can it write, store, and read? How about a 767Kb full-color short film or a 0.48Mb music file. Each fiber also includes a neural network of 1,650 connections and when sewn into the armpit of a shirt, it’s capable of collecting 270 minutes of surface body temperature data from the person wearing the garment. This data could then be analyzed to determine the different physical activities the person participated in with up to 96 percent accuracy.
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This work presents the first realization of a fabric with the ability to store and process data digitally…new information content dimension to textiles [that allow] fabrics to be programmed literally. When you put it into a shirt, you can’t feel it at all. You wouldn’t know it was there,” said Yoel Fink, professor and principal investigator at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics and a senior author on the study.