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This paper presents a real-time maximum-likelihood heart-rate estimator for ECG data measured via wearable textile sensors. The ECG signals measured from wearable dry electrodes are notorious for its susceptibility to interference from the respiration or the motion of wearing person such that the signal quality may degrade dramatically. To overcome these obstacles, in the proposed heart-rate estimator we first employ the subspace approach to remove the wandering baseline, then use a simple nonlinear absolute operation to reduce the high-frequency noise contamination, and finally apply the maximum likelihood estimation technique for estimating the interval of R-R peaks. A parameter derived from the byproduct of maximum likelihood estimation is also proposed as an indicator for signal quality. To achieve the goal of real-time, we develop a simple adaptive algorithm from the numerical power method to realize the subspace filter and apply the fast-Fourier transform (FFT) technique for realization of the correlation technique such that the whole estimator can be implemented in an FPGA system. Experiments are performed to demonstrate the viability of the proposed system.