LAS VEGAS - French fashion is getting smarter with the help of fabric woven with micro-sensors that can reveal when someone is weary or unwell.
France-based Cityzen Sciences was at the Consumer Electronics Show on Friday with shirts made of "Smart Sensing" material that reads body heat, heart rate, motion and location.
"The fabric can be made into any clothing; gloves, shirts, pants, you name it," said Gilbert Reveillon, international managing director at Cityzen, the lead company in a consortium that created the material.
"It is the first time ever that we managed to mix these two industries, embedding sensors into textile."
Sensors in the shirt capture data about a wearer and transmit the information through a small battery-powered unit sewn discretely where a label typically goes.
The data is sent in real-time wirelessly to a smartphone, where an application charts it in a timeline and alerts people to potential physical problems.
The application can show if a wearer is tired or stressed, or even if a coming heart attack is coming, according to Reveillon.
"You can't prevent a hear attack from happening, but you could definitely detect it hours, or even days, ahead of it taking place," Reveillion told AFP.
"On the field, a coach could tell when a member of the team has been running over capacity and put in a fresh player."
The material was developed in collaboration with major French sports teams as well as members of the health industry.
The Cityzen smart shirt was honoured for innovation at a first-ever digital health summit at CES.
"This really does seem like science fiction," Everyday Health chief operating officer Paul Slavin quipped after presenting Cityzen a top award for innovation.
Everyday Health, a digital health company, sponsored the prize.
The smart fabric can be laundered and ironed without worry, according to Reveillon.
"In two years' time, by washing it, you will recharge the batteries," he promised.
The material was said to cost about 30 to 40 per cent more than commonly used fabric.
The fabric was expected to be in commercial products late this year.
"It will be worldwide, either medical or sports," Reveillon said.
"Our proposal is to imbed micro-sensors now, nano-sensors soon, into any fabric."
Potential uses of the material will only be limited by the creativity and talent of software savants making applications that analyse and react to what is learned about wearers.
"A child could be wearing this shirt and, if a mother sees his heart rate and temperature jump, she can call him home and even watch the path he takes," Reveillon said.
The Smart Sensing consortium is backed, in part, by the French government.