Printed and textile-based sensor technologies for health and well-being

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Published Oct 21, 2021
Bonnie L. Gray


We are surrounded by sensors in our daily lives. These (usually) small, inobtrusive devices constantly capture data about our environment, and what we see, hear, and do. Sensors form the foundation for analysis systems and are an integral part of every closed-form system. Recently, advances in wearable technologies have resulted in monitors that can track a user’s physiological signals, such as heart rate, activity level, and other bio-signals. These sensors seek to provide more continuity for health and well-being via constant monitoring of important health parameters, rather than spot checks that may be several times a day (as in hand-held glucose monitors) or only a few times per year (e.g., blood pressure, dehydration level). Similarly, other sensors seek to address the health of other systems, such as the power grid. For example, semi-yearly spot checks for ammonia that are performed on utility power transformers to monitor function to avoid emergency shut-downs.

Commercially available wearable sensors are typically limited to bioelectric or physical (e.g., motion) sensing, limited in scope, and developed as discrete devices that are then integrated into “attach-on-demand” watches or elastic bands to provide power and/or computational analysis. Wearable sensors of other types for other biomarkers (e.g., biochemical, perspiration, breath) lag behind, despite their potential for applications such as personalized health; athletic performance; disease and therapeutic monitoring; sleep monitoring; and stress reduction. Furthermore, sensors as discrete components may be difficult to integrate into low-profile systems, such as textile-based systems, where sensors and other components are integrated directly into smart clothing. Other sensors systems could benefit from 3D printing or other additive manufacturing methods, via the integration of conventional printing materials with new functional (e.g., sensing or actuating) printed materials. Sensors could thus be easily tailored to individual needs, more easily integrated with other printed components, and more easily recycled as they have the same base material.

This presentation focuses on development of wearable and other printed sensors that are designed directly on textiles, or fabricated using 3D printing methods for easier integration with housings and other devices attached to them. We discuss the current state-of-the-art, and present examples of integrated textile-based and printing-based sensors. Wearable sensors are developed in flexible materials that are robust and can be conveniently worn for long periods of time. Printed sensors benefit from being developed concurrently with other parts of a closed form system, such as actuators and/or small scale fluidic systems. We investigate how advances in flexible devices and systems (electronics, sensors, actuators, microfluidics) and additive manufacturing (e.g., printing) can be adapted to low-profile, non-obtrusive, and personalized sensor systems. We also investigate the critical role that new materials plays in this development.

How to Cite

Gray, B. L. (2021). Printed and textile-based sensor technologies for health and well-being . SPAST Abstracts, 1(01). Retrieved from
Abstract 66 |

Article Details

A01: Plenary