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Underwear Waistbands Get Sensors

Sensors printed on the inside waistbands of underwear may one day monitor biological signals in sweat in real time. These biomarker readings would then lead to automated diagnoses that trigger the release of drugs held by smart materials in reservoirs. This is the "hospital-on-a-chip" vision that NanoEngineering professor Joseph Wang is developing.

Soldiers in the field will likely be the first to benefit from these kinds of smart systems, which will be embedded into a range of textiles - including the waistbands of underwear. Related technologies could even eventually help doctors, nurses and caretakers keep closer tabs on the real-time health of people both in hospitals and at home.

"The waistband of the underwear gives you the best contact with the skin where you expect to get a good sampling of the sweat," said Wang.

The makings of "smart underwear": chemical-sensing electrodes printed directly on the inside elastic waistband of a pair of underwear.

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