My research aim is to demonstrate how responsive fabrics could augment and transform health and well-being countermeasures technology, as well as inform the ergonomic and functional design of future intra- and extra-vehicular activity (IVA/EVA) clothing. This is achieved by performing continuous active compression, physiological sensing, and biomechanical monitoring of space explorers during their mission.
It is known that prolonged exposure to microgravity induces various acute health risks, such as osteoporosis, skeletal muscle atrophy and fatigue, hypovolemia, and cardiovascular deconditioning. Along with exercising machines, compression systems such as orthostatic intolerance and anti-gravity suits have been commonly used as interventions. However, these garments do not adapt to the physiological and physical changes of the wearer and are not able to exert controllable pressure throughout the body. I propose a sensing-actuating textile that could perform simultaneous active dynamic compression and physiological sensing on the human body. The actuation layer consists of thermally-actuated, shape-memory integrated knitted textile. The sensing layer, which consists of a soft force-sensing matrix as well as embedded blood flow and oxygenation sensor, will ensure closed-loop pressure distribution of the compression. Further, it could monitor disrupted blood change distribution due to the compression and microgravity environment and mitigate possible arterial inflow impedance. Prototypes are currently being tested in the ground for rigorous characterizations, before further evaluation in zero-gravity flights through this course, and finally long-term space mission.