Technology Feature
Fabric Sensors for Three Dimensional Surface Pressure Mapping

While traditional pressure sensors can be widely applied in our daily life, they are expensive and not easily adopted by the textiles industry. Traditional sensors, such as strain gauge and piezo-electrical sensor, have small deformability, with low sensitivity and short lifespan, and so are not suitable for measurement of such flexible and soft materials as textiles and apparel. Therefore there is a great demand expressed from the industry for fabric sensors which can do pressure measurement, especially for sportswear and specific applications.

Fabric pressure sensors are ideal candidates for measuring pressure on three dimensional surfaces. This is because they have good characteristics, such as high sensitivity and good flexibility as well as being light weight with a long service life, good environmental stability and good UV and water resistance. They also allow wireless transmission and real-time display, while the material and production costs are reasonable.

The sensor is made by applying a conductive polymer composite coating on the fabrics which changes its resistance under in-plane tension. With a supporting structure, the outside pressure will act as a compressive force and create tension in the sensing fabric so as to form the relationship between pressure to be measured and resistance.


Configuration of fabric pressure sensor


This project has developed three prototypes of measurement systems by using the fabric pressure sensors: fabric sensor based in-shoe plantar pressure measurement system; low pressure measurement system for garment; and wind pressure sensing system. These systems have great potential for various applications. For example, research on human biomechanics for healthcare and clinical medicine; outdoor activity for health and fitness; athletic training to analyse the sports data and improve training standard; shoe design and evaluation; functional clothing for measurement and analysis of pressure distribution such as healthcare apparel and sportswear; garment design and garment fitting evaluation; automobile, aerospace and construction to analyse the pressure distribution; wind pressure measurement in building services, stadiums and gymnasiums, ventilation in mine or public places.

In-shoe plantar pressure measurement system


Low pressure measurement system for garment


Wind pressure sensing system


Project coordinator: Prof TAO Xiaoming
Research institution: The Hong Kong Polytecnnic University
Enquiry: The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel
Email: / Website:

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