New 'smart bras' may detect breast cancer
New 'smart bras' may detect breast cancer

No, it's not something from the latest sci-fi blockbuster, scientists really are developing clothing that could save lives - or at the very least, diagnose an ailment before you see a GP.

For years scientists across the globe have worked on a range of clothing embedded with wearable medical sensors, to monitor and treat patients’ health.

The hope is that the high-tech clothing will aid in quicker diagnosis of common health conditions or at the very least, improve monitoring of at-risk patients with minimum disruption to their everyday life.

BRA TO DETECT BREAST CANCER Researchers in the US are developing a bra that detects breast cancer. Sensors within the fabric are able to tract temperature changes that may be linked to cancer. It's based on the theory that tumours need a blood supply to expand, and this blood causes heat changes in tissue.

While the bra may be available for purchase within the next 12 months, experts are cautious.

Emma Smith, senior science officer at Cancer Research UK says: ‘There’s no evidence to show whether this bra is a reliable way to detect tumours.’

STRING VEST FOR POOR POSTURE AND BACK PAIN Swiss researchers have been busy investigating the causes of back pain and have designed a string vest that will correct poor posture and help ease back pain.

Sensors in the vest detect the patient’s posture over 24 hours and this data is assessed by doctors or physiotherapists. Medics can then program the vest accordingly so that is vibrates whenever the wearer is in one of the postures that causes pain or harm to their spine.

Hopefully we'll be able to gift it for Christmas within two years.

ELECTRIC PANTS FOR INCONTINENCE Incontinence pads have a new best friend in the medical world: electric smart pants. Because the pads are so darned good at their job of wicking away moisture, the wearer is often unaware of leakage. These pants contain electro-conductive thread which sends a signal to an electronic sensor when it is exposed to fluid and they alert the wearer by gently vibrating. This gives the wearer time to change their pad.

‘This is a great breakthrough for incontinence sufferers,’ says Professor Raj Persad, consultant urologist and senior clinical lecturer at Bristol University.

‘Apart from the stresses of dealing with the symptoms of incontinence, sufferers are at risk of social isolation and depression. This device helps restore dignity.’

Look for these pants within 12 months.

TANK TOP TO TREAT A FAULTY HEART Doctors have developed a vest that alerts the wearer if their heart goes into an abnormal rhythm and then delivers a shock to keep the heart beat regular.

It's hoped the vest can be used while patients await implantation of a mini-defibrillator pacemaker or repair of one. It would allow them to safely wait for the procedure at home instead of hospital. Anything that helps us avoid hospital food, huh?

CAMERA 'NECKLACE FOR POOR MEMORY Part on-trend jewellery, part medical device for people with dementia or memory problems, this camera is worn like a necklace and automatically take images every 30 seconds.

According to brain-scanning tests, viewing the images taken throughout the day activates nerve cells in areas of the brain responsible for memory, which leads to long-term improvements in memory and recall.

And good news - the camera is on sale at Vicon Revue

SHIRT THAT TELL YOU WHY YOU COUGH A shirt that measures cough severity has had 99 per cent accuracy when compared with video analysis, the current 'gold standard' for cough measurement.

The "LifeShirt" is embedded with sensors to measure lung function, respiration and heart rates. This data is then sent wirelessly to medical teams for assessment.

It has already been trialled by the British cycling team to investigate why so many of their athletes suffer with coughs when training.

According to Andrea Wooles, a sports scientist at British Cycling the Lifeshirt allowed the medical team to track the physiological data of their riders, "...providing us with greater insight into the plausible causes of cough,’ she said.