Kenneth J. Loh
The measurement of vital signs (such as respiration rate, body temperature, pulse, and blood pressure), especially during strenuous activities, is essential for physical performance and health monitoring. A variety of wearable chest band sensors have been developed, commercialized, and widely used in consumer and healthcare settings. The plethora of technology choices also means that each unique chest band sensor may require different data acquisition hardware and software systems, and data may not be transferable between platforms. Therefore, the objective of this work was to develop a low-cost, disposable, respiration sensor that could be attached onto any elastic chest band. The approach was to spray-coat graphene nanosheet (GNS)-based thin films onto unidirectionally stretchable elastic fabric to form a piezoresistive material. Snap buttons were incorporated at the ends of the fabric so that they could be attached onto any chest band, removed at any time, and replaced for a new data collection event. The resistive nature of the nanocomposite sensor means that they can be easily interfaced (e.g., using a voltage divider) with any existing data acquisition (DAQ) module while adding respiration monitoring capabilities. To facilitate testing of these nanocomposite respiration sensors, a miniature DAQ module with four sensing channels was also prototyped. Then, tests were performed with human subjects wearing a nanocomposite chest band and a reference commercial respiration monitoring chest band. Simultaneous measurements of subject respiration verified the respiration monitoring performance of these low-cost, disposable, nanocomposite fabric sensors.