Healthcare wearables to be tested in space

A bio-monitoring system developed by Montreal-based wearable sensors company Carré Technologies is to be tested on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The Canadian Space Agency said last month that Astroskin will collect valuable scientific data on astronauts’ vital signs, sleep quality and activity levels during their missions.

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jacques will test Astroskin during his six-month mission aboard the ISS in 2018-19.

Astroskin consists of a “smart shirt” and related software which continuously records heart and breathing rates, electrical activity of the heart (electrocardiograms), blood pressure, breathing volume, skin temperatures, physical activity levels and blood oxygen levels.

Scientists on the ground will receive this data via the space station’s communications system and will analyse it to gain a better understanding of the effects of space travel on the human body.

In the future, a commercial version of the technology could be used to help patients requiring continuous monitoring of their vital signs at home. It could also be worn by workers in hazardous environments such as mines, industrial platforms or factories.

Astroskin is based on a technology called Hexoskin, a smart shirt and software which is already commercially available and is used to monitor the vital signs and sports performance of athletes. Hexoskin is currently undergoing testing to assess its effectiveness in remotely monitoring patients suffering from angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, CEO and co-founder of Carré Technologies, commented: “Deploying our wearable sensors and software to the ISS is significant as this represents the ultimate remote patient monitoring scenario. The findings from tracking the health of astronauts will be used to make our healthcare system more accessible and support new home care and telemedicine services.”

The contract for Astroskin is valued at up to C$2.4m (£1.4m) over 18 months, the Canadian Space Agency said.

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts