A T-shirt may one day save your life.
That’s one vision behind the “Wired to Wear” exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibit, which runs March 21 to spring 2020, is replete with more than 100 wearable items, including a functioning jet suit—a la Iron Man—and a jacket that gives the wearer so-called “Spidey senses.” The experimental jacket is designed for people with low vision and uses an echolocation system paired with small pulses to alert the wearer of nearby objects, such as walls or passersby.
“Technology’s getting really personal,” said Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections and head curator at the museum. “It’s going to be in the stuff that’s really familiar to us—our clothes.”
Health technology accounts for one-third of the exhibit. That means robotic underwear that helps seniors move around, a T-shirt that performs an electrocardiogram and a device—smaller than an M&M—that measures exposure to ultraviolet light. Many of the products are experimental projects by artists or researchers, but some are on the market today.
One such creation, dubbed the LifeVest, is a wearable defibrillator. The vest, which gained Food and Drug Administration approval in 2001, delivers an electric shock when it detects the wearer has experienced a life-threatening, rapid heart rhythm. It’s meant for patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, while their physician determines if an implantable defibrillator is needed for long-term protection.
These treatment shocks save about three patients’ lives each day, according to Jason Whiting, president of the manufacturer, ZOLL LifeVest.