New UBC Okanagan tech could leave smart watches in the dust

UBC Okanagan develops washable, yarn-like sensors with promising health applications

UBC Okanagan researchers have created a new smart tech that could challenge smart watches.

The School of Engineering has developed a low-cost sensor that can be woven into materials and composite materials paving the way toward smart clothing that can monitor movements and human activity.

These microscopic sensors, treated with graphene nanoplatelets, can read the body’s activity and monitor heart rates, engineering professor Mina Hoorfar said.

READ MORE: Okanagan College offers new technology program

“Microscopic sensors are changing the way we monitor machines and humans,” Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Lab lead researcher Hoorfar said. “Combining the shrinking of technology along with improved accuracy, the future is very bright in this area.”

Smart clothing will be beneficial for athletes, reminding users when to hydrate or rest, but UBC professor Abbas Milani said the technology can also be used in aerospace, automotive and marine manufacturing, as it can monitor breakdowns in fabrics already used in those industries.

With further improvements the local technology will be able to capture major flaws like ‘fibre wrinkling’ in manufacturing of composite structures used in airplanes and car bodies.

“Integrating sensor technologies like piezo-resistive sensors made of flexible materials compatible with the host textile reinforcement is becoming a real game-changer in the emerging era of smart manufacturing and current automated industry trends,” director of UBC Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute Milani said.

READ MORE: UBC Okanagan opens high-tech learning building


Caitlin Clow
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com
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