KANAZAWA – Japanese textile fibre business Toray Industries is set to launch a 'health service' which allows companies to monitor the health and performance of their employees with a functional textile called ‘Hitoe’. The material is capable of measuring a wearer’s biomedical signals through wearable sensors and conductive polymers.
Co-manufactured with Japanese telecommunications company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), the development from Toray – initially developed in 2014 – sees fibre nanomaterials coated with a conductive polymer and embedded with wearable sensors, to detect the likes of heart rate, fatigue, and stress.
The proposed health service from Toray would enable employers to receive a warning when the garment detects worrying signs from an employee’s data.
Principally aimed at industrial workers or employees with irregular working patterns, Toray has reported that when compared with conventional fibre material used in ordinary clothing, Hitoe – Japanese for ‘one layer – improves adhesion to the skin, thereby allowing the measurement of biomedical signals.
High conductivity and durability levels have also been obtained in Hitoe material by filling the gap between nanofibers with conductive polymers, using Toray’s “advanced high-order processing technology”.
Speaking about the service, Toray president Akihiro Nikkaku said the company wants to focus more on the healthcare business to capitalise on Japan’s ageing population, and is aiming for ¥300 billion (US$2.6 billion) in sales in its healthcare developments by 2020: “We are going to strengthen the development and production of highly functional textile products such as the Hitoe service for the healthcare market,” he said.