Researchers from NUS have developed a smartphone-powered suit that is capable of providing athletes with physiological data, including information on their posture, running gait, and body temperature while they are performing. The team says athletes are always looking for new ways to push human performance and to be able to improve the need to know their current limits objectively so they can overcome them. Current ways that athletes can track performance include wearables, such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit.
Better performing systems are available, but typically include tangles of wire and are too bulky to be used outdoors. The researchers sat about developing a system optimized for collecting data on athletes in the outdoor environment during performance using multiple sensors at different points on the body. One major goal was to reduce the system’s bulk, weight, and wires to an absolute minimum.
The researchers came up with a wearable suit with patterns of web-like threads that relay electromagnetic signals from a nearby smartphone to sensors on the body as far away as a meter. The smartphone provides power and data connectivity to the suit wirelessly. Developing the technology took about two years.
The team says that the smart suit works with most modern smartphones, which act as the power source and the display to view sensor data. The suit is powered by integrated smartphone wireless technology. The web of circuitry inside the wearable suit has inductive patterns that act as hubs at strategic locations.
Custom-made sensors are placed at those hubs and can transmit data back to the smartphone and are powered by the smartphone’s NFC chip. Eliminating the need for the wearable suit to have batteries reduces bulk and weight. Up to six sensors are supported per smartphone. Sensors can do things such as measure spinal posture, running gait, and body temperature simultaneously. The team is currently working on developing new sensors to integrate into the suit to improve data collection and hope to work with professional athletes.