Smart shirt can help monitor breathing for patients with chronic lung disease

Of all the most common causes of death in the world, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the only one that is increasing. Currently, 5% of the world’s population will die from the effects of COPD, but by 2030, it will be the third leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Health care costs are therefore high. Correct detection of COPD-related complaints can prevent many hospital admissions. The Flemish company Quad Industries and the Dutch company Kinetic Analysis want to jointly offer a solution to this by developing a “smart” shirt that can detect and signal COPD-related complaints in a timely manner. Interreg is one of the key instruments of the European Union supporting this cooperation across borders through project funding.

Smart clothing and data
Smart textiles can not only enhance existing functions of clothing, but also offer consumers new functions. Despite this, smart textiles still have a hard time separating from the lab setting. The reason that practice is still lagging behind is that technology such as flexible electronics has now reached its infancy, but it is still not mature. An additional problem is that the intelligence of the clothing only arises if it is sufficiently ‘trained’ with relevant data. Given the late detection of COPD-related complaints, there is therefore only little data available.

The aforementioned challenge has prompted the partners Kinetic Analysis and Quad Industries NV to join forces. Together they want to develop and market a smart long shirt, with which patients can better monitor themselves at home based on objective data. As a result, an ad hoc problem is less likely to arise and hospital visits can be avoided. This increases the self-management of patients and provides both the patient and the doctor with more and reliable information about the course of the disease.