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Surprising Science

A Onesie That Monitors Breathing

As a possible solution to the problem of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, researchers in Germany have created a prototype of a garment with sensors integrated into the fabric.

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration in Berlin have created a prototype of a one-piece garment for infants with sensors integrated into the cloth. They monitor the wearer’s breathing “by checking both the distance between two points on the chest and responding to strain.” An alert will sound if there is a problem, but as of right now it’s not clear whether it will be a sound or a visual cue. The electronics needed to record and report sensor data are included in a flexible, stretchable polyurethane circuit board that can be removed when the garment needs to be washed.

What’s the Big Idea?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a real fear for new parents, and many often resort to baby monitors or keeping the crib in their room. A comfortable sleeping garment that has the monitoring built in would be a welcome alternative. The circuits themselves are made of affordable materials, but polyurethane has a tendency to change shape, which is one of the current challenges preventing mass production. Several companies are working on ways to bring manufacturing costs down.

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