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Soft Systems

Yi Zhou

Health challenges in urban life inspired me to explore the concept of comfort and portability in healthcare wearables through yarn
functionalities, fabric handle and garment construction. 

Combining science, engineering, fashion design and fine art, Yi Zhou applied her interdisciplinary skills to develop textile wearables for enhanced user experience.  

Based on the physical properties of optical fibre sensors (OFS) and body-mapped geometric construction, the final prototype is a lightweight, wearable system for patients with lower back pain to track and correct their sitting posture anytime and anywhere. Bringing more reliable reporting performance and user experience.  



Degree Details

School of Design

Soft Systems

Yi Zhou is a knit designer, specialising in smart textiles with a background in both fashion design and fine art, re-designing and redefining the human-material-environment relationship.   

Currently, Yi Zhou is working on projects exploring the relationship between the human body and physical feedback and the design of healthcare wearables with consideration for functional sensing, comfort and aesthetics.  

System Design — The system is designed with vibration reminder to encourage user to improve their posture while providing portability. Once the monitoring system detect lower back pressure, it will generate a vibration feedback at the position where the stimulus was registered. This can further decrease the prevalence and symptoms of lower back pain as conservative treatment and reduce usage of other treatment methods e.g. pain relief medication.

Structure Design — Most the materials used in this product are soft and flexible, including the optical fiber sensor and circuit board. With the sensor embedded in the yarn itself, it can provide a comfortable user experience and suitable for long-term usage.

Textile Design-1 — Material: Optical fibre, Wool Technic: Knitting- Inlay

Textile Design-2 — Material: Optical fibre, Wool Technic: Knitting- Inlay

Monitoring System — This technology not only solves the problem of fragility in fiber optical sensors integrated in wearables, but also provides the possibility for commercial mass production in the future.

Modular Design — Modular textile structure is designed and applied for Optical Fiber Sensor which all the electronic devices within the wearable can be removed at any time for convenient after care e.g. washing.

Upright Working Progress in Royal College of Art — Hopefully in the future, we can collaborate with health services for use in lower back pain patients which require conservative treatment or provide as personal use for lower back pain prevention. Also, because of current widespread use of smartphones and due to the variability in sensation to vibration between person to person, we are planning to develop an APP in the foreseeable future to provide more detailed and personal feedback on the position and intensity of pressure detected by the sensor.
The innovation product is a textile design wearable device for lower back pain patients to monitor and correct their sitting gestures at anytime and anyplace, which potentially prevent developing or worsening lower back pain.

The main technology is the application of Fibre Optical Sensor into the textile fibre itself, which brings more precise monitoring result as well as the comfortable user experience.


Optical Fibre, Wool, Cotton



In Collaboration with:

Product Innovation with Sensor
Art and ScienceBodyConstructHealthcareInteractiveInterfaceTechnologyWearable

Footfalls and Heartbeats Limited


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