Dow Digital Science Center

HexoSkin

How Are the HexoSkins used?

HexoSkin suitDr. John Davis and colleagues were recently awarded a research grant through the US Department of Defense to test how different medications affect the physiologic responses of individuals performing high-intensity exercise upon acute exposure to high altitude. The goal of this study was to determine if medications could help military forces avoid or minimize the effects of altitude on their physical performance. They used the Hexoskin shirts to provide important data regarding heart rate, breathing rate, breathing volume, steps taken, and Calories burned during a 3-mile hike/run up a mountain in Colorado.

Sports teams (elite, collegiate, and recreational) also use the HexoSkins.The assessment of heart rate and breathing rate/volume can help to maximize the effectiveness of practice and training sessions and to promote optimal performance and recovery during game/match situations.

Personal Physical Activity Tracking

Interest in personal physical activity tracking has increased dramatically in recent years, with sales of products such as Fitbit and Apple Watch increasing exponentially. Most activity monitoring devices have been designed for wear on the wrist so as to function similar to a wristwatch. However, these wrist-worn PA monitors have several limitations. First, wrist-worn monitors can be ‘tricked’ into counting physical activity that does not occur (e.g., waving your arms while sitting down) or, conversely, not counting activity that actually does occur (examples include cycling, walking while pushing a shopping cart or stroller, etc.). Additionally, while some wrist-worn devices claim to be able to measure physiologic data such as heart rate, studies evaluating their accuracy have returned mixed results at best.

Given interest in personal activity tracking, several companies have entered into the “smart clothing” arena, designing clothing embedded with sensors equipped to measure both physical activity and physiologic data. The Hexoskin biometric shirt is one such smart clothing option, a compression tank top designed to assess steps taken, Calories burned, and sleep time (if worn overnight) as well as measuring physiologic data including heart rate, breathing rate, and breathing volume. Being closer to the body’s center than a wrist-worn device, it is anticipated that both the physical activity and physiologic data can be better assessed with this biometric shirt. Additionally, the Hexoskin has a GPS unit that allows for location, distance traveled, speed, and elevation gain/loss to be assessed when activities are performed outside.