'Smart shirt' could revolutionize vital sign monitoring
At-risk heart patients can get peace of mind while enjoying everyday activities.
Often, you don’t know you’re having a heart attack until it’s too late – but imagine if the T-shirt you’re wearing under your clothes could prevent a heart attack or even improve your overall physical fitness. Israeli med-tech startup HealthWatch has developed a smart T-shirt that can do just that.
The sleeveless T-shirt, part of HealthWatch’s hWear line of wearable technology devices, is called MasterCaution – it was named after the light in an airplane cockpit that goes off when there is a problem that demands immediate attention. It continuously monitors heart activity and other vital signs in real time and transmits the information via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, accessible by the patient and their doctor.
“We believe our easy-to-use FDA-approved system will give patients ‘peace of mind’ while they are pursuing their normal daily activities and will allow medical personnel to save beds in hospitals for patients who require 24/7 care,” HealthWatch Chairman Dr. Yoram Romem, an alumnus of Bar Ilan University in Israel, told From the Grapevine.
The company was founded in 2010 in Israel, by Romem and CFO Amos Shattner. Romem and Shattner are not new to the med-tech scene. They were both board members of insurance software provider Sapiens, and Shattner is a co-founder of Hip-Hope Technologies, which has developed a product to prevent hip injuries, as well as previous experience in other areas of the technology sector.
HealthWatch’s smart shirt monitors all vital signs – including pulse, temperature, breathing rate, blood pressure and posture through a series of ECD sensors embedded right into the comfortable stretchy fabric and attached to a tiny unit worn on the tip to collect and transmit the information.
The shirt is available for both men and women, and was designed for comfort and fit with the help of a leading underwear designer.
“Our primary customer is anyone who has had a heart issue or procedure whose doctor wants to allow them to live their life while being fully monitored – outside of the hospital – as necessary. This can be for anyone from post-surgery patients to people who have heart disease in their family,” HealthWatch spokesman Mac Cheek told From the Grapevine.
Similar devices have been tested recently by professional athletes. The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team has experimented with wearing a compression shirt under their jerseys that can record player’s heartbeats and energy consumption. And just ahead of the U.S. Open, tennis player Marcos Giron tested prototypes of Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech smart shirt, which can track breathing depth, recovery, energy output and stress levels, as well as heart rate, inputting all of the information into a smartphone app.
Currently, the MasterCaution smart shirt is only available by prescription; a medical professional must ensure correct fit and device operation. Future improvements might include new apps designed for monitoring pregnancy or other medical conditions. HealthWatch says they’re working on developing a version of the smart shirt for top athletes, but for now application is strictly medical.
While the shirt is incredibly advanced, it’s still machine washable, and there’s no need for a wearer to shave or otherwise prepare their skin in any way.
The MasterCaution smart T-shirt was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Class II medical device last year, and is so far the only smart T-shirt on the market to be approved by the FDA. The device has also been approved in Europe.
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