The Italian Almanac

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fireman needing all the protection he can get

Italian News - February 10

Researchers have produced futuristic clothing able monitor their wearer's environment and help protect them from danger, according to Italy's National Institute for the Physics of Matter (INFM). Discussing the Europe-wide project to create "smart clothes", Annalisa Bonfiglio of the INFM, which is coordinating the project, explained the garments would initially be used for protective purposes.

"The wearable systems we are developing will be able to monitor environmental conditions, such as identifying the presence of toxic gases and external temperatures," she said. "This is a great opportunity to experiment with the application of advanced textile technologies in the field of electronics". The clothes are created using micro and nanotechnology, which allow electrical components, antenna and sensors to be inserted directly into the fibre.

Chiefly geared towards emergency personnel, such as firefighters, they are designed to protect the wearer in a variety of ways. They will be able to monitor the health and exhaustion level of the wearer, measuring indicators such as heart rate, respiration and posture. More sophisticated technology will check for stress and dehydration through testing the chemical composition of sweat and blood. The hi-tech clothing will transmit this information to a central reception centre, which can follow personnel in action and intervene in the event of danger.

The garments are being developed as part of a 12-million-euro project named ProTEX, which will last four years.