This Sweater Is Also a Physical Therapist
Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen’s latest creation is better suited to a doctor’s office than a runway. Vigour, her collaboration with smart textile designer Martijn ten Bhömer, is kind of a wearable physical therapist. The sweater, woven with sensors and conductive fibers, is aimed at older adults, especially those with dementia.
The sensors, located in the lower back and under the arms, record motion data while the wearer completes exercises, providing the physical therapist with active feedback on the patient’s progress through an iPad. It also makes sounds, providing aural feedback to help dementia patients better remember whether they’re doing the exercises right.
The knitted cardigan is designed to look and feel much like a regular item of clothing, so that older adults don’t balk at the stigma of wearing a medical device. Thus, it’s also comfortable enough to be worn all day, which like other fitness trackers, may encourage the wearer to stay active. Physical activity has been shown to reduce cognitive impairment, and may slow the onset of dementia.
The sweater debuted at Dutch Design Week in the fall. Since then, the creators have improved the sweater’s software and sound controls. It comes in six colors right now, though it’s not yet available on the commercial market. Regardless, we eagerly await the day when a cozy sweater can be considered a health and fitness product.