By Leo Herold U. Laluna

PHOTO: Fink Lab/MIT, Elizabeth Meiklejohn/RISD

People usually avoid wearing their heart on their sleeve because it leaves their hearts vulnerable to the harsh comments of others. However, scientists took this saying and quite literally made fabric that can listen to one’s heartbeat. Acting as a form of a microphone, a new experimental type of fabric used in clothing creates electrical impulses from the sounds made within the wearer’s body.

As if the fabric was another ear, it converts the sound it hears into vibration, readily converting it into a form of electrical impulse which can be inserted into a device for reading. Interestingly enough, the team that worked on the fabric based the creation on the human eardrum. Yoel Fink, a materials scientist at MIT, says, “that this eardrum is made of fibers” which prompted the use of similar fibers in making the fabric.

Researchers intend to use this microphone ability to monitor bodily functions such as heartbeat as a fashionable version of a stethoscope. On that note, it could prove to be useful in monitoring heart conditions for individuals. Considering the susceptibility of Filipinos to heart diseases, accounting for an estimated 20% of deaths, an outfit made of the fabric would not only look good for Instagram pictures but also potentially save lives.

Even in a future application, the fabric could also be used in communication. Since the fabric acts as a microphone, it could also be used in conversation as a hearing aid for individuals who have difficulty in hearing.

For the longest part, technology has constantly been seen as rusty and gigantic pieces of technology. Though with this piece of fabric, there is potential in shifting that image to a more user-friendly image. Fink says it best as they hope that they can beautify technology in the process.

While wearing one’s heart on their sleeve can be dangerous to their emotions, wearing a fabric that hears the same heart is a breakthrough in both medicine and technology. With the ability to monitor the heart and possibly improve communication, the fabric turns outfit-of-the-day to outfit-for-life.