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Top To Toe: A Look At Where Stretch Sensors Can Measure Our Bodies

The human body is a varied canvas, one that can yield a surprising amount of information if you know where to look.

In the realms of VR/AR, healthcare, and sports and fitness, having access to granular details about the movement of the body is essential — details that wearable stretch sensor technology can deliver.

Have a think about your body and all the myriad ways it can move. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to track that movement accurately and in real time? We’ve got good news: If you can move it, our stretch sensors can measure it.

STARTING FROM THE TOP — NECK, SPINE AND CHEST STRETCH SENSORS

The nature of modern existence means huge numbers of people have problematic sedentary lifestyles. Office workers spend long periods sitting at desks in front of a computer, with little need to remain active. How many of us finish a workday only to stand up and feel our bodies protesting over a lack of use?

“WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY COULD BE A KEY ELEMENT IN COMBATING POOR ERGONOMICS.”

Some of the most frequent injuries brought about by inactivity affect our necks and spines, the result of poor ergonomics in our workspaces and craning to read text on a computer screen. Wearable technology could be a key element in combating this problem, with stretch sensors embedded into smart clothing to monitor neck and spine position and provide real-time feedback, alerting users of a need to adjust.

For people already suffering from spinal injuries, preventative measures are often not enough — a more immediate solution may be necessary. Silicone stretch sensors can help to evolve existing rehabilitation tools, delivering detailed body motion and position information for a new generation of health monitoring and evaluation solutions.

With the high level of sensitivity offered by our stretch sensors, you’re also able to measure much more subtle body movements, even something as seemingly minor as chest expansion and contraction from breathing.

fabric stretch sensor on elbow, stretch sensors, smart garment, fabric sensors, stretchsense, smart clothing, joint angle measurements
Attaching stretch sensors to joints can help improve physical performance.

DIGITAL DIGITS — HAND, ARM AND SHOULDER STRETCH SENSORS

Using stretch sensors to track body motion isn’t just limited to real-world applications. Capturing movement and translating it to a virtual space can be a challenge, but consider the VR implications of precise, real-time hand motion tracking. Game developers can have access to new levels of player dexterity; medical students can train for complex surgical procedures without ever touching a real patient; even artists and musicians can experiment with new creative methods that wouldn’t be possible in reality.

“CONSIDER THE VR IMPLICATIONS OF PRECISE, REAL-TIME HAND MOTION TRACKING.”

With a silicone stretch sensor running down the length of each finger and providing precise motion tracking data, animation of a user’s hand in a digital space is more sophisticated than ever before. Replicating the movements of a real hand in a VR/AR application is a step beyond the controllers currently available with popular systems — and offers greater precision and a more immersive experience.

Moving further up the arm, there are three key joints — wrists, elbows and shoulders — that are not only susceptible to injury, but play an important role in how effective a person is at an activity. Correct technique is essential for anyone involved in a sport where the arms and shoulders are heavily used — think swimming, tennis, golf or rowing. Flexible stretch sensors placed on these joints to capture body motion can yield critical insights into performance and how technique can be improved.

HIT THE FLOOR — FOOT AND LEG STRETCH SENSORS

Our legs and feet arguably take more punishment than any other parts of the body, with even the simple act of walking resulting in concussive (albeit somewhat gentle) impacts throughout the day. For sportspeople, these impacts are often magnified — think how many of the world’s most popular sports involve a large amount of running, kicking and changing the direction of motion on a dime.

“SENSING TECHNOLOGY CAN ALLOW SMART FOOTWEAR COMPANIES TO EXAMINE THE IMPACTS OF WALKING AND RUNNING.”

It’s little surprise, then, that our feet and legs are among the most common points of injury for active people. Traditional healing and rehabilitation techniques for these areas remain effective, but the insight offered by silicone stretch sensors can provide a deeper examination of how our feet and legs are affected by constant, often rigorous, activity.

Real-time motion and body shape data gives a deeper view of how the ankle, knee and hip joints are moving, helping us understand the causes of injuries, and develop preventative systems and techniques to reduce the chances of recurrence. On our feet, meanwhile, sensing technology can allow smart footwear companies to examine the impacts of walking and running, and then develop innovations — based on quantitative, precise data — to protect customers from injury.

stretch sensors, smart garment, fabric sensors, stretchsense, smart clothing, joint angle measurements, fabric stretch sensor on knee
Wearable technology can reveal more about how rigorous activity affects our bodies.

EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN

Tracking activity in various areas of the body is one application of silicone stretch sensors, but measuring body size and composition is another important aspect of healthcare where wearable sensing technology excels. Detailed assessments of girth — perhaps the circumference of an arm or leg — enable healthcare professionals to monitor changes in body size. When even slight fluctuations are significant, the accuracy of our sensing systems can make a huge difference.

The applications above are just a few examples of where our silicone stretch sensors can be placed on the body, and we’re discovering new ways to derive insight from body motion tracking all the time.

Got an idea you think could utilize stretch sensors for human body motion? Speak to our team about developing a customized prototype today.

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