MIT researchers have found a way to integrate electronic sensors into stretch fabrics. This breakthrough could lead to shirts and other clothing that continuously monitor wearers’ vital signs, including heart rate, temperature and breathing.

The resulting clothing could potentially help improve home care delivery in several ways, advocates say. For example, sensor readings could serve as an early warning system for worsening health. Plus, they could be used in conjunction with telehealth efforts and could shorten or even eliminate the need for some home visits, experts noted.

We can integrate any commercially available electronic parts or custom lab electronics into the textiles we wear every day, creating conformable garments, said Canan Dagdeviren, Ph.D., assistant professor at MIT.

These are customizable, so we can make clothes for anyone who needs physical data of their body like temperature, respiratory rate, etc., she added.