A Toronto-based smart clothing specialist has received a $1.5 million grant from the province of Ontario. The money is being taken out of the $50 million Ontario Together Fund, which was set up in response to COVID-19 to provide financial support to businesses that were in a position to develop or manufacture essential medical supplies.
To that end, Myant has created a new line of connected undergarments (dubbed “Skiin”) that can track biometrics like heart rate, posture, and step count. Skiin products can also monitor someone’s location and read their core body temperature, though the latter is not accurate enough to reach medical-grade status.
The information gathered with Skiin can be consolidated and managed through a smartphone app developed specifically for that purpose. The province suggested that the wearables could help watch for signs of COVID-19, though the current versions can only prompt someone to go get tested ahead of an official diagnosis. Myant is eventually planning to upgrade Skiin to read sleep, stress, and respiration biometrics, and enable fall detection and non-medical ECG monitoring.
Until then, Myant will be using the $1.5 million to conduct a trial in collaboration with the Ontario Together Fund. The trial will have 2,500 participants, each of which will receive a free Skiin kit that they will be expected to wear for a period of three to four months. Myant is hoping to move forward with a commercial launch once the trial is completed, at which point the Skiin kits are expected to retail for $299.
The trial will take place in Sault St. Marie, in partnership with Algoma University and the Sault Area Hospital. Clinicians will track the participants’ health through the Myant app, while students will evaluate the user experience for both patients and their healthcare providers. The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade believes that the Skiin kits will be particularly beneficial for seniors, Indigenous people, and other individuals who may not have ready access to centralized healthcare services.
“While COVID-19 has caused incredible challenges to health care, it has also encouraged us to embrace new and transformative ways of taking care of each other,” said Myant EVP Ilaria Varoli. “Skiin will help health professionals bridge physical distances and deliver preventative care to ensure the ongoing well-being of the most vulnerable communities.”
Myant is not the first company to experiment with biometric fabric. Montreal’s OMsignal released a biometric sports bra in 2016, while Apple has patented a fabric system that would automatically adjust the temperature if the wearer became too hot or too cold.
May 10, 2021 – by Eric Weiss