A smart jumpsuit provides information on infants’ movement and development
A new innovation makes it possible, for the first time, to quantitatively assess children’s spontaneous movement in the natural environment.
Researchers have developed a smart jumpsuit, or a garment that accurately measures the spontaneous and voluntary movement of infants from the age of five months. Details on their motility help in assessing abnormal neurological development, among other things.
The study on the smart jumpsuit and the related analysis method applied to 7-month-old infants was published in the Scientific Reports journal. In the future, the jumpsuit can also be used to study older children.
“The smart jumpsuit provides us with the first opportunity to quantify infants’ spontaneous and voluntary movements outside the laboratory. The child can be sent back home with the suit for the rest of the day. The next day, it will be returned to the hospital where the results will then be processed,” explains Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Helsinki.
Vanhatalo says that the new analysis method quantifies infant motility as reliably as a human being would be able to do by viewing a video recording. After the measurement, the infant’s actual movements and physical positions will be known to the second, after which computational measures can be applied to the data.
“This is a revolutionary step forward. The measurements provide a tool to detect the precise variation in motility from the age of five months, something which medical smart clothes have not been able to do until now.”
The smart jumpsuit was developed under the Rhythms in Infant Brain (RIB) project, part of the Health from Science (TERVA) programme funded by the Academy of Finland, the Foundation for Pediatric Research and the Finnish Brain Foundation. The multidisciplinary research group, which operates in the New Children’s Hospital, is headed by neurophysiologist Sampsa Vanhatalo and paediatric neurologist Leena Haataja. In addition to physicians, the group comprises psychologists, physiotherapists, nurses and engineers.
The textile and usability design of the smart jumpsuit was coordinated by researcher Elina Ilén, while researchers Manu Airaksinen and Okko Räsänen from Aalto University were in charge of AI analyses. The project utilised the Movesense sensor, an open-source device developed in Finland by Suunto, and a mobile application developed by the German company Kaasa.
Published 13 February 2020
Photo Sampsa Vanhatalo