A group of researchers at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) have been granted a patent for electromagnetic wave sensors that can be woven into any garment as a way to continually monitor a patient’s vital signs.

The smart sensor technology allows doctors to monitor continually patients’ vital signs, such as their heart rate, blood oxygen levels and temperature without having to wire them up to a machine.

Invisible and undetectable to the wearer, these non-invasive sensors are sensitive enough to pick up a wide range of vital signs and can transmit these readings in real time to devices located several metres away.

“While we are still in the early stages of development, the range of potential applications for this wearable sensor technology is immense, not just in the health care sector but also in sporting and military applications," said Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma, who invented the technology.

“The traditional hospital identity bracelet, for example, could eventually be adapted to include this sensor technology. Garments could also be developed for people with dementia living in the community, giving care workers a non-invasive way of monitoring their health and wellbeing."

Al-Shamma claimed the technology could represent significant potential cost savings for the NHS, while also improving patient care.

Commenting on the news, Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger, said the technology demonstrates the importance of collaboration, and the wealth of knowledge transfer taking place, between the UK’s world class universities and companies.

“From the introduction of the steam locomotive in the 1800s, to TV in the early 1900s, new ideas have changed the way we go about our daily lives and patents provide a great history of our entrepreneurial spirit and industrial development,” he said.