Researchers have developed new sensors embedded in T-shirts and face masks to track heart rate and ammonia content.

An article about the new development was published in the journal Materials Today.

Potential applications range from monitoring exercise, sleep and stress to diagnosing and monitoring diseases by breathing and vital signs.

Made from a newly developed conductive cotton-based filament called PECOTEX, the sensors are inexpensive. For as little as $0.15, a meter of thread can be made to seamlessly integrate more than a dozen sensors into clothing, and PECOTEX is compatible with standard computer embroidery machines.

The research team sewed the sensors into a face mask to monitor breathing, a T-shirt to monitor heart activity and a textile to monitor gases such as ammonia, a breathing component that can be used to track liver and kidney function. 

Wearable sensors, such as those on smartwatches, allow for continuous monitoring of health and well-being in a noninvasive way. Until now, however, there have been no suitable conductive strands, which explains why wearable sensors that can be easily integrated into clothing are not yet widespread.

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