MIT researchers have found a way to embed electronic sensors in stretchy fabrics. This breakthrough could lead to shirts and other garments that continuously monitor a wearer’s vital signs – including heart rate, temperature and respiration.

The clothing that results eventually could help enhance home care delivery in several ways, according to advocates. As examples, sensor readings could serve as an early warning system of worsening health. Moreover, they could be used in conjunction with telehealth efforts and might shorten or even eliminate the need for some in-home visits, experts noted.

“We can have any commercially available electronic parts or custom lab-made electronics embedded within the textiles that we wear every day, creating conformable garments,” said Canan Dagdeviren, Ph.D., an assistant professor at MIT.

“These are customizable, so we can make garments for anyone who needs to have some physical data from their body like temperature, respiration rate, and so forth,” she added.