Health Team

Health tracker in a T-shirt? It's in the works at NC State

Posted March 31, 2015 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2015 6:06 p.m. EDT

At the ASSIST Center on North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus, students are working on research to convert energy in the body into fitness trackers and other measures of overall health.

Devices like a wired wristband or a heart monitor embedded in a T-shirt may help people better measure and understand what's going on in their bodies and in the environment around them.

"Our devices are self-powered, which means they don't have a battery, and you don't need to worry about charging these devices," said Dr. Veena Misra, director of the ASSIST Center.

One of the center’s prototypes is an EKG integrated into a T-shirt and powered by the wearer's energy.

"We are using the human body as a source of power, relying on body heat and body motion," Misra said.

The students are working with various industries to develop new wearable devices that measure a variety of health metrics. Data gathered gives a long view, whereas a doctor visit offers only a snapshot of health, engineering student Amanda Myers said.

"We want to empower the users by creating seamless, comfortable, wearables, and they can use these technologies to make the right health decisions," she said. "Those health care decisions can really improve their quality of life."

The ASSIST Center is funded by a grant of about $18.5 million over five years from the National Science Foundation, and the products being prototyped at NC State should be available to the public within that timeframe. Misra expects that if they show success, they will get additional funding.