SPHERE Wearable Technology Research

 Laura presented her research as part of the SPHERE project to the UROP poster presentation 2015.

The project researches ideas for wearable technology to monitor health in the home. Laura was able to discuss ideas for wearable technologies with members of the team from systems engineering and worked towards developing a piece of clothing that could potentially monitor posture. She was able to research current trends in fashion and share with the technologists ideas to create a shirt that was attractive and practical. Her experiments with silicon rubber embedding the sensors highlighted problems with durability, size and comfort of the current projects sensors.The images below show a prototype teeshirt, the shirt has sensors to show spine position and also contains vibration. There is still much more to develop with this idea.

What is the SPHERE research project?

a Sensor Platform for HEalthcare in a Residential Environment

The UK is the most obese nation in Europe. Obesity, depression, stroke, falls, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease are some of the biggest health issues and fastest-rising categories of healthcare costs. The associated expenditure is widely regarded as unsustainable and the impact on quality of life is felt by millions of people in the UK each day With a rapidly ageing population - could technology be the answer to some of these problems?

SPHERE is developing a number of different sensors that will combine to build a picture of how we live in our homes. This information can then be used to spot issues that might indicate a medical or well-being problem.
The technology could help in the following ways:
  • Predict falls and detect strokes so that help may be summoned
  • Analyse eating behaviour - including whether people are taking prescribed medication
  • Detect periods of depression or anxiety and intervene using a computer based therapy
SPHERE will work with clinicians, engineers, designers and social care professionals as well as members of the public to develop these sensor technologies.

We want to make sure the technology is:
  • Acceptable in people's homes
  • Solves real healthcare problems in a cost effective way
  • The project generates knowledge that will change clinical practice (this will be achieved by focusing on real-world technologies that can be shown working in a large number of local homes during the life of the project).

What is ArtLabs involvement?

We have been invited to explore the potential for creating wearable sensors. Laura Nicholson is working on the project as a UROP student and we are continuing to explore this over the coming year. The brief is open as the research is looking for new ways to make wearable technology acceptable for people to want to wear. We are looking at how sensors could be embedded in clothing, that might spark ideas for fashion, art, music, dance as well as healthcare monitoring. 

We invited fashion designer Ella Sharp to give us an introduction to current fashion trends and research into wearable technologies. The slides below document her introduction to the SPHERE group at Reading.

ArtLab SPHERE Intro Nov 2nd 2015

During an ArtLab session during Enhancement week the group looked at the intro to fashion trends and wearable technologies that fashion designer Ella Sharp had presented to SPHERE researchers including the video of Hussein Chalayans collection from 2007. 

We explained that the SPHERE project’s aim is to create wearables for monitoring health in the home, but that to make the idea of being monitored become desirable/acceptable the clothes needed to be inventive and appeal to people so they would want to wear them. We hope to bring another perspective by exploring the ideas through art. The issue of whether the idea of creating clothes that monitor you was ethical was also discussed and raises interesting complex issues. 
The image below shows Laura and Nic who have been working on the SPHERE project with half the group exploring how sensors could be installed into clothing as part of the SPHERE research project, we had various clothes available for people to try embedding the sensors but the designer model drawings were most popular. 

There were some really interesting ideas. We need more time to explore how they can be embedded into clothes or into the fabric material itself. Below are the groups initial sketches for sensors in clothing.

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