Textrodes for Personalized Health Monitoring has a Future

Last week the licentiate thesis "On the feasability of Using Textile Electrodes for Electrical Bioimpedance Measurements" was presented by the doctoral student Juán Carlos Márquez Ruiz, from the research group on Medical TexTTronics at the School of Engineering, University of Borås. This thesis investigates the performance of spectroscopy measurement of electrical bioimpedance with “textrodes” (textile electrodes), which measures electrical signals passing through the body and can see the composition of the body, such as water and fat in tissue. 

Juán Carlos Márquez Ruiz is researching on Textile-enable Biomedical instrumentation with the goal of enabling e-health applications, like home-healthcare monitoring. Currently at point-of-care, electrodes are used to acquire biopotential signals such ECG and other non-invasive bioelectrical measurement. The electrodes are placed on the skin using conductive gel, which help to obtain better measurements. In order to obtain proper measurements the electrodes must be placed in the right place. A textile garment with integrated electrodes would ensure the right placement and a good contact with the skin, which is a prerequisite, for obtaining reliable measurements. 

Current electrodes and prototypes tested

Already today there are a few examples of functional clothing, especially for the measurement of heart rate for fitness and training but according to the results from Juan Carlos’ research the technology is ready to implement new products to monitoring body functions assessing on body composition. 

Juan Carlos Márquez Ruiz has studied the performance of Textrodes on various scenarios of usage for measuring bioimpedance. Comparison against traditional electrodes with textrodes currently available on the market and also prototypes that he has developed himself under the supervision of Dr. Fernando Seoane and the support of technicians at the Swedish School of Textiles. He has also studied the influence of the size of the electrodes, the contact surface against the skin and the structure of the textile electrodes on the performance of electrical bioimpedance measurements. The goal was to identify the dependencies influencing on the performance of measurements of electrical bioimpedance to find ways to design and successfully implement textile-electronic integrated systems for physiological measurements.

Should concern the industry

Eventually, Juán Carlos Márquez Ruiz says, it is possible to produce textile conductive material that has high reliability for the measurement of signals. His research shows that it is possible to produce materials that work well and therefore should be of interest to industry for many different kinds of products. But it needs more research before you get to see such products on the market. 

Juan Carlos Márquez Ruiz comes from Mexico and he started as a master's student at the University of Borås in 2005. He completed two Master's degrees in electrical engineering, one with the major in Communications and Signal Processing, and the other one in Biomedical Engineering. Then, with a scholarship granted by the Mexican CONACYT (equivalent to the Swedish Research Council) he became a doctoral student at the School of Engineering, University of Borås.
The presentation was held at KTH in Stockholm on the 31st March. Another seminar on his research will be held the coming 4th of May at the School of Textiles.