Canada Wants To Send Its Astronauts To Space In Computer Shirts

Canada Wants To Send Its Astronauts To Space In Computer Shirts

Wearable technology has a long way to go. Sure, a smartwatch that lets you read text messages on your wrist is neat, and a pair of glasses that take pictures is innovative (or whatever). But what about technology we can really wear? Like clothes?

Canada’s on the case. The land of hockey champions and Commander Chris Hadfield is currently testing a revolutionary type of clothing. It’s a t-shirt embedded with wireless sensors that can monitor vital signs as well as performance statistics such as blood oxygen levels. The idea is that astronauts could wear these computer shirts in space, and the garment would actually broadcast details about the astronaut’s health back to mission control. The Canadian Space Agency calls it “Astroskin.”

A team of Canadian astronauts is currently testing Astroskin on a 45-day-long expedition to previously unexplored regions of Antarctica. While they’re away from civilisation, they’ll be without vehicles and busy doing things like walking, skiing, and ice climbing. All the while, the team’s Astroskins will be blasting information about the astronauts’ health back to researchers in Canada.

The ultimate ambition for something like the Astroskin is to make it available to anyone. Astroskin is based upon an existing technology called Hexoskin, though the Canadians hope their improvements can be shared with many. “People who live in remote communities, for example, will have an easy access to a doctor,” said CSA chief medical officer Raffi Kuyumijian in a release. “They can have these shirts on them all the time. It can trigger alarms if something wrong is happening, and alert the doctors following at a distance.”

And hey, if medical technology is designed to be useful from orbit, it should be helpful to people living in remote villages. Now they just need to figure out where they’ll charge the dang things. []