The ‘e-skin’ connected shirt promises to turn your body into a controller

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have turned the human body into a controller for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Dubbed e-skin, the connected shirt enables camera-free motion capture and tracking.

“Our vision was to revolutionize the apparel industry by creating printed circuit fabric,” James Eakin, chief marketing officer for Xenoma, the company behind e-skin, told Digital Trends. “E-skin apparel demonstrates the ability to create an array of sensors and electronics integrated into traditional textile materials which have broad implications for gaming, fitness, wellness, and industrial applications.”

The wireless shirt, which is on display at IFA 2017 in Berlin, allows wearers to move freely, stretch, and perform tasks like running and swinging. The shirt’s 14 strategically placed sensors — in areas like the shoulder, thorax, elbows, and wrist — allow it to pick up signals from these movements and translate them into actions in a connected program.

“Each of the strain sensors and stretchable conductive traces are electrically insulated to withstand sweat and moisture, while remaining comfortable, durable and machine washable,” Eakin said. “The e-skin Hub, which attaches to the front of the shirt, powers the circuit on the shirt and sends the sensor information in real-time over Bluetooth to a phone, tablet, smart watch or PC to be rendered or analyzed.”

The hub can also save log data and display as a graphical interface.

Xenoma launched a Kickstarter campaign for e-skin in August and has so far raised over $51,000 with one day left in its campaign. The early bird shirts are available for $479.

Beyond gaming, the e-skin may also be used for physical fitness and training. In fact, it can be programmed by developers to suit a number of applications, from correcting posture to correcting your golf swing. Eakin explained: “E-skin apparel has broad appeal in personalized training and coaching for helping to improve form and performance while reducing risk of injury. For instance, this could be integrated into analyzing specific body movement for running, yoga, golf, or cycling.

“Aside from the sports and fitness side, we are excited to explore telemedicine and industrial workers safety application fits as well. We think the possibilities for e-skin are endless.”