The goal is to integrate circuits into nonwoven textiles to create wearable textile printed circuit boards and systems. This technology will be applied towards wearable computing applications like physiological monitoring garments, textile RFID, and human-robot distributed networks. Our research adopts the technologies used in the polymer thick film (PTF) industry and adapts and applies them to nonwoven textiles. Instead of weaving or knitting conductive yarns with fabrics, we are currently screen printing conductive inks onto novel nonwoven textile substrates produced in the College of Textiles at NC State University.
In order to characterize the capabilities of these conductive inks, as they have been printed onto the nonwoven substrates, we have measured the electrical properties of printed transmission lines. These experiments have shown that the printed lines can support multi-gigabit per second applications for line distances of up to 2 meters long. In addition, we have designed active ECG dry electrodes for integration into a garment. Preliminary tests with these nonwoven printed electrodes show promising results yielding a clean ECG waveform. Currently, a wireless Bluetooth system is being developed using a HP IPAQ Pocket PC and a remote embedded Bluetooth system with an ECG preamplifier and Texas Instruments MSP-430 microcontroller. Ultimately, the embedded Bluetooth system will be integrated into a garment for heart rate and respiration monitoring. This system will allow wireless monitoring of a person’s heart rate without large bulky electronics and obstructive wires.
Related projects deal with: (1) the development of unique inductive and capacitive sensors all fabricated on nonwoven textile substrates, and (2) an interactive interface between the wearer and autonomous mobile robots.
Outreach to industry includes the following companies and federal agencies: Freudenberg, DuPont™, Creative Materials, Precisia, Paralec, Goulston Technologies, Sara Lee Branded Products, and U.S. Army Natick. This project is funded by the National Textile Center (NTC).
Faculty Team: Edward Grant; Behnam Pourdeyhimi; H. Troy Nagle; John Wilson
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