What will the digital patient wear?

The research on new material and wearable devices for health monitoring doesn’t stop! I would recommend you a pair of interesting news, one by a Korean start-up, the other by Apple, that is continuously investing in this sector.

Who does not love smart watch, preferring a classical watch, must know that a valid alternative is coming. At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, a Korean start-up called Welt, revealed its smart belt.

Worn like a regular belt, Welt can monitor an extended range of health data. The device can track the waist dimension, the physical activity and the food excess, in order to give you a complete health analysis, while supplying you with a guide through a smartphone application. Besides, as the last Apple Watch does, it can register falls.

Welt belt can track steps and burnt calories; besides it also checks the time you remain seated, vibrating from time to time to suggest you stand up. Abdominal fat is a product of excess calorie intake. And since your waist can expand and contract over a duration as short as half an hour on calorie intake, WELT could effectively help you keep track of these rapid variations to monitor patterns of overeating, graphically showing the results.

Created in 2016 thanks to a financing of 70K US$, is now ready to be marketed in the United States.

Recently the US Patent & Brand Office published a patent request from Apple named “Fabric-Based Items with Electrical Component Array”. Apple foresees a large number of products which could take advantage in the future from those smart tissues, from a cover for MacBook to the clothing and much more.

The Apple work on smart tissues has considerably accelerated. In the last 12 months Apple has gained more than 6 patents relevant to Tissues and Smart Fabrics.

In this specific patent, Apple describes how electrical components can be incorporated into a tissue (i.e. covers, clothing), in order to create objects with advanced functionalities.
It’s difficult to insert electrical component into the tissue because it can be flected and elongated, operations which can interrupt the electronic circuits. This is the limit that the new Apple tissue is aimed to overcome.

A tissue-based object can have a series of electrical components and one or more layers of tissue. Those ones can represent a substrate for the electrical components or can be coupled with support structures where the electrical components are assembled on. The Apple invention foresees that the electrical components can be assembled on a support structure such as a flexible printed circuit. That one can have a knitting look, made by a series of openings.

The segments of a flexible printed circuit, with a zigzag shape, can be extended among the openings and can interconnect parts of the flexible printed circuit where electrical components are welded to. The electrical components can be diodes emitting light or other electrical components and can be covered with polymers which diffuse the light or other materials.

The Apple invention can involve a big range of future devices. Apple list includes: PCs, a monitor with an incorporated computer, tablets, smartphones, multimedia readers, smart watches, earphones, earpieces and much more.

Shall we assist the birth of clothing which enlighten or with a weave to be varied through an app? Or cloths which permit to monitor the iPhone or iWatch by means of their sleeve or cuff?

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