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Research and development on smart wearable health systems and applications (SWHSA) was motivated by the need to respond successfully to the healthcare challenges of reducing healthcare costs while maintaining a high quality of care, providing ubiquitous easy access to care, and shifting the focus of healthcare expenditure from treatment to prevention through wellness programs. Physiological monitoring with SWHS has so far dealt mostly with measurement of vital signs like ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and posture. There is a trend to extend monitoring capabilities toward biochemical variables. There are several promising techniques for achieving this type of monitoring in a purely noninvasive, painless way. One could thus envisage the integration of noninvasive transdermal biosensors in SWHS;e.g., in biomedical clothes. The future development of intelligent biomedical clothing (IBC) based on full integration of sensors/actuators, energy sources, processing, and communication within the clothes could overcome barriers to existing wearable health systems. The area of SWHSA is further developed in FP6 (Framework Program 5) of the EC, through significant support of new functionalized systems based on the integration of several technologies and disciplines such as micro/nanotechnologies, textile materials, physiology, biology/biochemistry, and ICT (information and communication technologies) as well as data integration and decision support. This area is expected also to be further developed within FP7.
Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE (Volume:26 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: May-June 2007