A Canadian company is sending its smart shirt to the moon.
By Archana Mehta
These days everyone owns wearable technology. In fact, you’re probably wearing some type of technology right now. Apple Watch? Wearable technology. Fitbit? Wearable technology. That heart rate monitoring gadget you strap to your chest during a workout? Wearable technology.
But just when you think wearable technology is limited to strapping on gadgets, there’s more. Hexoskin, a Montreal-based smart clothing company founded in 2006, is taking wearable technology to the next level with its smart shirts.
Hexoskin has created a smart shirt that can track your heart rate and other vital signs through its biometric sensors. The garment is made of fabric that is lightweight and breathable and can be worn under regular clothes. Using Bluetooth technology, the shirt can transmit your health data to physicians and other clinicians who can then make decisions on course of care.
According to Hexoskin CEO Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, the company’s smart technology is clinical grade, meaning it’s more complex than consumer heart rate monitors and fitness trackers on the market. He says the technology provides “long-term, high-resolution health data,” including cardiac and respiratory data. “We record 42,000 data points per minute,” which is more than other monitoring devices, he says.
Hexoskin houses all data for its customers on its open data platform, which allows other fitness applications, such as MapMyRun and Runkeeper, to integrate with it. This allows Hexoskin’s digital interface to provide a range of insights on the metrics that are collected.
Fournier says one unique and innovative feature of Hexoskin’s smart shirt is the breathing sensors that allow for long-term monitoring. The company has been working with respiratory disease researchers for a number of years. Fournier hopes that in the coming years, Hexoskin will be able to market a product that will set new standards for monitoring people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis.
The long-term implications of innovative wearable technology will be huge: It’s an unobtrusive way for people who need constant monitoring — whether because of a health issue or old age — to gather data for their healthcare providers. And it’s without the often embarrassing cords, wires, and tapes that are common with many monitoring devices.
Wearable technology also is a way to record data from active, generally healthy people over months, and even years. The data can help researchers find better ways to prevent, predict, and manage chronic conditions to reduce hospitalization rates and provide better patient outcomes. Fournier also hopes it will help patients and providers communicate more effectively.
Next up for Hexoskin? The International Space Station (ISS). A Canadian astronaut is going to the ISS this fall and will be wearing a Hexoskin smart shirt called Astroskin that will monitor him while he’s in space. Astroskin will monitor him in real time and wirelessly transmit his vital signs. Medical teams on Earth will be able to interpret this data in real time and better understand how the human body responds to tasks and the environment in space.
Fournier says Astroskin has been seven years in the making. He hopes the smart shirt will provide data that countries around the world will be able to use when their astronauts are conducting experiments in space. Eventually, Astroskin will be available to all the countries contributing to research on the ISS.
To learn more about Hexoskin, visit hexoskin.com.
Archana Mehta is the Founder and CEO of AM Strategies, a marketing and communications firm based in Washington, D.C. She has spent the last 15 years helping companies with everything from marketing strategies to content development to product launches. In her “spare” time, she enjoys taking her toddler twins on adventures around the country.