PRESShirt Wearables, Harvard Undergraduate Thesis

PRESShirt: Wearable Pressure Sensors for Contact Sport Athletes

Project Description

Undergraduate thesis, Harvard University. Advisor = Prof. Rob Howe.

Millions of people, ranging from children to professional athletes, are treated annually for sports injuries. The most severe injuries often come from playing contact sports.

To better understand the forces the body experiences during contact motions and objectively analyze tackling form, a pressure sensitive wearable made from piezoresistive fabrics was developed and tested on humans. This device was able to collect data during normal practices or games, and process sensor readouts in real time.

Project Details

  • Sensors are made from fabrics and thin-sheet plastics; can be sewn with a standard sewing machine
  • Can distinguish a light touch from a full-body force application
  • Compliant with NFL, World Rugby standards for in-game usage
  • Employs a microcontroller for onboard data acquisition/processing
  • Machine washable (removable electronics)

Press / Relevant Media

Field Demo: Video

The shirt in action. A slow-motion tackle is performed by an experienced contact sports athlete, and the resulting forces plotted as contact is made.

Sensor Materials

Exploded view of the various materials (conductive fabrics, insulators, etc.) that make up the sensor.

Key Areas of Injury / Proper Contact

Areas marked in red are the most commonly injured torso regions during activity. Blue regions mark where safe, proper contact should occur. The circled areas on the skeleton translate to the highlighted regions on the shirt.

Electronics Block Diagram

General schematic of the electronic hookup in the shirt.