Wearable technology has hit the big time, with electronics leaders like Apple and Samsung being among the many companies that have released smartwatches and smartbands to capitalise on the trend. However, Japanese textile and chemistry company Toyobo is bringing a new definition to the term "wearable."
Toyobo is currently developingtape-like material called Cocomi that, when applied to clothing, is capable of measuring biometric information such as myocardial electric signals, sweat composition and respiratory rates.
Though the product is designed for both the medical and sports industries, the product appears to be geared more to the wellness-oriented than the fitness-oriented, giving indicators of heart and lung health rather than cardiovascular performance.
With a thickness of only 0.3mm, the tape-like material is capable of stretching to roughly double its length. The company intends to have Cocomi ready by 2017, forecasting sales of 200 million yen ($1.6 million, AU$2.3 million or £1.1 million) during the financial year. Based on the initial success of the product, Toyobo will look into expanding the range into complete pieces of clothing.
The material, which has electrodes and sensor technology running through it, is attached to clothing by thermo-compression bonding, and is elastic enough to contort around the human body's shape. From there, the Cocomi material sends signals to a smartphone or medical instrument.
Toyobo is one of many companies innovating in the face of the exploding wearable technology industry, with smartbands and smartwatches becoming increasingly popular -- the wearable technology industry is expected to be worth $70 billion (AU$100 billion or £45 billion) by 2025.