Astroskin – A smart shirt for space

Astroskin - Astronaut medical monitoring system

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Credit: Canadian Space Agency

What is Astroskin?

Astroskin is a bio-monitoring system that will keep a watchful eye on our astronauts' vital signs for science. The system will continuously record their heart and breathing rates, electrical activity of the heart (electrocardiograms), blood pressure, breathing volume, skin temperatures, physical activity levels and blood oxygen levels during their missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), without interfering with their daily activities.

Scientists on the ground will receive the data collected by Astroskin via the ISS' communications system and analyze it to gain a better understanding of the effects of space travel on the human body.

Space is a harsh environment and while the scientific community has some awareness of the impact it can have on astronauts' bodies, there is still much to discover. The data collected by Astroskin will be used by scientists around the globe in the human health experiments conducted on the ISS.

Astroskin was developed for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) by Carré Technologies of Montreal, Quebec. A second Canadian company, CALM Technologies, of Kingston, Ontario, will provide engineering support to send Astroskin to space. Montreal-based Xiphos Technologies has developed a processor card that will transmit data from the ISS to scientists on Earth.

Applications for life on Earth

If Astroskin is capable or monitoring the astronauts' vital signs and relaying the results thousands of kilometers to scientists on Earth, it also has the potential to help patients requiring continuous monitoring of their vital signs at home. In addition to monitoring the health of Canadians who are housebound or living in rural communities with limited access to their doctors, Astroskin can also be worn by workers in hazardous environments such as mines, industrial platforms or factories.

Astroskin technology is based on a technology called Hexoskin, a smart shirt and software which is now commercially available and used to monitor the vital signs and sports performance of athletes up to the Olympic level. Hexoskin is undergoing testing to assess its effectiveness in remotely monitoring patients suffering from angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition to being watched over in the comfort of their homes, these patients are at a reduced risk of readmission to the hospital.