‘Smart Shirts’ Measuring Daily Lung Function May Help Monitor COPD, Other Respiratory Conditions

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Shirts with smart technology could be used in place of traditional laboratory equipment to measure lung function, and prove to be particularly useful in respiratory conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), new research suggests.

The data were discussed in a presentation, titled “Tidal volumes during tasks of daily living measured with a smart shirt,” by Denise Mannée, a PhD candidate at Radboud University Medical Centre (The Netherlands), at the recent European Respiratory Society International Congress.

Being able to measure lung function in people affected by respiratory diseases would allow healthcare providers to track disease progression, and researchers to test the potential benefits of experimental treatments.

“COPD is a growing problem with around 64 million people suffering with the condition worldwide. When patients suffer an increase in their symptoms, such as coughing and breathlessness, they need to be monitored more closely… This is traditionally done in the clinic with equipment such as an exercise bike, facemask, and computer,” Mannée said in a news release, noting that the equipment “is not very practical for measuring everyday activity.”

Therefore, researchers wondered whether “smart shirts” — wearable shirts with sensors that can transmit data to an app on a smartphone — could be an alternative to traditional equipment.