Canadian entrepreneur outlines future of bio-sensing clothing

The era of always-on monitoring when bio-sensing apparel can keep tabs of your bio-signals in real-time is coming, Frederic Chanay, cofounder and CEO of the Canadian startup OMsignal said in his keynote speech at the 2017 Textile International Forum.

Chanay pointed out that bio-signals such as a person’s heart rate, body temperature, calories, breathing pattern and sleep analysis, etc. are the most valuable data in the always-on digital world. However, bio-signals are most useful when they are medical grade, which many current wearable devices are not available to provide. Bio-sensing apparel is the best source of rich, medical grade bio-signals, he said.

With medical-grade data and algorithms to analysis them, OMsignal clothing can provide electrocardiography and breathing test results on a par with standard medical devices. Chanay pointed out that bio-sensing apparel can make life easier for medical professionals by providing them rich and real-time data of their patients. They can also be highly valuable for professional athletes who can take advantage of the bio-data to enhance their performance.

AiQ Smart Clothing Chairman Ray Lin, who described himself as a competitor as well as a friend of Chanay’s, pointed out that the Taiwan-based AiQ sees a future for bio-sensing clothing in elderly care in a graying world.

Currently, a piece of bio-sensing apparel consists of clothing made with textile fitted with sensors and a match-box sized transmitter that sends the information via Bluetooth. The transmitter is expected to become smaller and smaller until it will simply be embedded in the yarn, said Lin, who is also the chairman of Taiwan Garment Industry Association.

Both OMsignal and AiQ expect bio-sensing clothing to become the next big thing in the next few years. Chanay outlined a future where medical professionals or caregivers in some cases can notify even before illness comes to their patients thanks to the analytics of their patients bio-signals. While he understands some might have concerns about privacy and data security, he believes the benefits simply outweigh the risk as they can be literally life-saving.