The fiber is crafted by melting and spinning two polymers, one that transmits the light-based data and another that serves as a coating. That’s no mean feat, the team tells Popular Science — you can’t usually melt and spin optical fibers, and this technique allows for much higher production volumes.
Researchers are currently interested in catering to hospitals, which could use sensor-equipped clothing to monitor vitals without risking the sores that come from wearing traditional sensors. That, in turn, could minimize the chances that patients get further illnesses. However, the researchers hope to expand their flexible fiber tech to track oxygen, pressure and other crucial data. And it’s reasonable to expect that this technology will eventually go beyond the medical field. Don’t be surprised if you one day buy fitness apparel that tracks your stats without any obvious signs that there’s technology inside.