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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Smart sweaters and overalls that monitor vital signs: LIFE’s hit-tech garments

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No more holters, electrodes or cables, but a shirt that can monitor the wearer’s vital parameters. A second skin that registers the activity of the body in the environment where the patient is, not necessarily the hospital. From this idea LIFE was born in 2012, a company with offices in the USA, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy, where it produces health and sports devices equipped with sensors incorporated into the fabricyou too. The decision to focus on Milan and Lombardy for the creation and design of these hi-tech garments was an obvious one. “In Silicon Valley, they wouldn’t be able to make them,” he says the founder and CEO Gianluigi Longinotti Buitoni —. If we want people to feel comfortable with our devices, just like any other piece of clothing, they need to be comfortable and make them want to wear them. I left Italy at the age of 17, but I decided to bring an important part of the business to the country precisely because of the excellence of Italian fashion and medicine».

Gianluigi Longinotti Buitoni

LIFE develops software and sensors through to the production of T-shirts and coveralls that can perform a 12-lead electrocardiogram, measures heart rate, arterial saturation, mechanical, respiratory rate and any apneas. «The quality of the data generated may depend on the technology used or on the context – adds the founder -. For example, some tests for sleep disorders are invasive and blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office are higher than at home. Our technologies, on the other hand, enable doctors to monitor the patient in their daily life, resulting in significant cost savings for the National Health Service. We also test the equipment with athletes in training». This was possible thanks to five years of investment in controlling motion artifacts, situations where the patient moves and the doctor loses signal, and the ability to diagnose.

The IoB Challenge

After working at the family business Industrie Buitoni-Perugina and Unilever, Longinotti Buitoni served as president and general manager of Ferrari North America, where he led the relaunch. “With two Formula 1 engineers, we invented a remote diagnostic system that allowed us to check the status of the car in real time. The interest in the Internet of Things grew out of that,” he says. But today the new frontier of connectivity and data is the Internet of Beings (IoB), in which agencies generate health data through digital tools. “Physiological data has a much higher value than that generated by the IoT industry. LIFE devices can become an assistive technology for various industries, but also for medicine, explains Longinotti Buitoni. We can help insurance companies connect directly with data owners to do more and more interesting business. While the data we collect from drivers can help the automotive industry improve self-driving vehicles. And the athletes’ data allows to monitor the athlete’s health and improve his performance».

Medicine and research

The company’s priorities for now are medicine and research. “We are an end-to-end company, for us it is essential to continue to generate the best possible data to carry out a complete diagnostic examination, starting with an intelligent suit,” continues Longinotti Buitoni. The biggest challenge is ensuring that customers have full control over their physiological data. “Ethics is a fundamental mission for us, so we want to make sure that the data generated by the wearer of our devices is our exclusive property. But it is neither easy nor obvious. That is why we have contacted two European governments to see if they can manage the data platform themselves,” he says. Most LIFE technicians are electrical engineers. The Monzino Cardiology Center in Milan, with Professor Piergiuseppe Agostoni, was one of the first to test this technology, which allows patients between the ages of 20 and 80, in stable clinical conditions, to wear a t-shirt that can monitor the heart and respiration at the same time. LIFE is currently collaborating with other European centers of excellence, such as the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Imperial College London, Insel in Bern and Max Plank in France, and has already registered about twenty patents worldwide. The goal for the next five years is to exceed 100 million euros in turnover. “Most sales – explains the CEO – will go to the two LIFE sites X10X.com and X10Y.com”.

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Source: Corriere

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