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Wireless body sensors for medical care in space

Illustration of how the wireless body sensors work

This image demonstrates how Hexoskin's wireless body sensor system works. (Credit: Hexoskin, 2015)

2015-12-23 – Have you ever wondered how astronauts' health can be monitored in space? The Canadian Space Agency tasked Montreal-based Hexoskin (Carré Technologies) to come up with a unique innovation based on wireless body sensors. This sensor system would continuously record, manage, and analyze crewmembers' physiological data such a vital signs, sleep quality, and activity levels. The data from the sensors would be transmitted wirelessly back to a software application that could be consulted in real time by the medical crew.

This new technology, currently being developed, has the potential to become an essential tool as part of an integrated medical system for human exploration missions. For example, in the event of an injury or illness, data from these wireless sensors, as well as other data collected during the mission, could assist the crew in establishing a quick diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Health monitoring, from space to Earth

Prior contracts with the CSA have led Hexoskin to develop Astroskin, a bio-monitoring "smart shirt" that has similar objectives. Astroskin has not yet been part of a space mission, but it is undergoing extensive testing. In fact, it has already been subjected to unpredictable and harsh conditions in Antarctica. Although the system was designed with astronauts in mind, its ability to manage the wearer's medical data from any location holds great promise. Patients on Earth requiring close medical surveillance, especially those in remote communities, could greatly benefit from this innovation.

The company currently commercializes the Hexoskin smart shirts for health tracking in sports training. This version is available for athletes and used by research institutions to monitor health outside of the usual clinical settings, during real life activities.

CSA's Space Technologies Development Program

CSA's current contract, valued at $692,700, was signed on August 5, 2015. Hexoskin has received various contributions and investments from the CSA since 2011, mostly through the Space Technologies Development Program (STDP). The STDP serves the purpose of developing industry capabilities by investing in innovative space technologies. It focuses on enhancing Canadian expertise and talent and ensuring the industry's responsiveness to future market demands while maintaining its global competitiveness.

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