The safe, e cient, and reliable operations of land, air, and marine vessels and structural systems depend on the performance of the human operator. In fact, human error and fatigue have proven to be major causes of many historical catastrophes. Therefore, monitoring the physiological parameters and/or psychological state of the operator can facilitate early detection of problems and provide the necessary feedback for preventing potential accidents. One approach is to measure human vital signs (e.g., respiratory rate, body temperature, and bodily motions) using a wearable sensing system as a way of correlating and monitoring human physiological performance (e.g., fatigue or medical emergencies).
Instead of using conventional, bulky, wearable devices, the approach undertaken by the Active, Response, Multifunctional, and Ordered-materials Research (ARMOR) Lab and in collaboration with Prof. Helen Koo (UC Davis) is to design fabric-based sensors that are exible, lightweight,
low-cost, non-intrusive, washable, and comfortable to wear. Here, carbon nanomaterial-based thin lm sensors are integrated with exible fabric. The resulting fabric sensors can be readily tailored to form garments, chest bands, patches, and gloves, among others. They are by nature multifunctional, since fabric sensors can be worn on the body, while their electrical properties are tuned to be sensitive to changes in body temperature and deformation (e.g., due to chest movements during breathing), which have been successfully demonstrated in the lab. The vision is to establish a framework for designing and manufacturing di erent types of multifunctional fabrics for the military, emergency rst responders, workers working in hazardous conditions, healthcare personnel, and patients, among many others.