Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have developed pyjamas embedded with self-powered sensors that provide continuous monitoring of heartbeat, breathing and sleep posture – a ‘smart’ garment that could help improve sleeping patterns.
A team developed a cotton pyjama shirt, called the ‘Phyjama’, that is equipped with sensors to monitor the wearer’s sleep quality, such as the amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep they get, which is important for consolidating memories, or if they have breathing issues during the night.
Five lightweight sensors are sewn into the lining of the shirt. Four of those sensors detect constant pressure, like that of a body pressed against a bed, whereas the fifth one is positioned over the chest and senses rapid pressure changes, giving data about the heart rate and breathing.
The sensors are further connected by wires made from thread slightly coated in silver. Team lead Trisha Andrew said, “They are sewed onto the seams of the shirt, so you don’t see them.” Andrew also mentioned that the shirt is completely machine-washable.
The signals gathered from the five sensors are then sent to a tiny circuit board that looks and functions like an ordinary pyjama button and is placed at the same location as the pyjama button. The button contains a built-in Bluetooth transmitter that further sends the data wirelessly to a computer for analysis.
The Phyjama is still in its early stages and the researchers are trying to ensure the sensors are accurate for a variety of body shapes and heights. Andrew estimates that the product could be on market within two years costing only $100-$200.
As of now, the team is working towards extending the tech to wearable electronic sensors that detect gait and send feedback to a monitor to help prevent falls.