SporTech Sleeve: Thermal Enervation Detection

A photo of the SporTech Sleeve: Thermal Enervation Detection team working on their projectSponsor: Gryppers

Team Members: Kyle Chang, Julia Drago, Dylan Kyker, Olivia Turschak

Project Description: An average of 618 Americans die every year as a result of heat-related illnesses, so our aim was to create a knit sleeve that will prevent fatal heat-illness by alerting the user when they are at risk. Our thermal enervation sleeve is integrated with a sensor that notifies the wearer when they are becoming dehydrated and at risk of heat exhaustion by analyzing the sodium ion concentration in their sweat. Sweat is channeled through our sleeve design, wicking it away from the skin and towards the sensor for analysis.

Initially, our team decided that either a spacer fabric or plated fabric would be best for the sleeve channel design, but we eventually decided that a plated fabric is better suited for an athletic garment. With our previous textile knowledge, we decided a hydrophobic yarn against the skin would wick sweat up into the hydrophobic yarn which could then channel that moisture towards a sensor with help from a hydrophobic coating. We conducted a vertical wicking test and a moisture management test on our samples to see how well they transported moisture through-plane and in-plane of the fabric. Through the use of a screen printed hydrophobic coating, we wanted to test the ability of the channel to transport the sweat towards the sensor while also preventing the sweat from evaporating in that area. We conducted an evaporation test on the plated samples and then planned to apply a hydrophobic coating to the same samples and run the test again to see if it slowed the rate of evaporation. The final step of our project was to integrate an outsourced sensor into our knitted sleeve. We planned to use conductive yarn and Velcro to attach the sensor and sew a pocket onto the sleeve that would hold the power source and the microcontroller that collects the data. 

Something we learned during this project was to not let the final product cloud initial ideation processes. This caused some setbacks, as we were putting unnecessary constraints on the project and not focusing on specific steps. We also learned that preliminary testing and collecting data and sweating goal numbers for the product is extremely important for success and progress.