When is a T-shirt not just a T-shirt? When it is also a remote high-tech health monitoring service.

ZTE, a provider of advanced telecommunications systems, has unveiled a new wearable textile that can detect a person’s bio-vital signs and transmit them via 5G.

Made in Italy and developed with the Red Cross, the textile is called YouCare and is suitable for garment manufacturing, producing clothing that is washable and easy to wear.

The textile is revolutionary as it uses “sensors naturally set into the fabric”. However, it is still too early to know about applications for decorators: further testing of the fabric will continue this autumn at ZTE’s Innovation and Research Center in L’Aquila in Italy.

It can be used to create a T-shirt that carries out an electrocardiogram and analyses the respiratory system, the components of sweat, muscle effort, and body temperature. This can be transmitted via an ultra-fast 5G ZTE connection to a health centre or to an individual user.

The textile technology, patented and certified, develops new services for the protection of health in the areas of telemedicine, work, sport and individual people’s general well-being.

It is backed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which has been working on the project since 2018. Its president, Francesco Rocca of the Italian Red Cross, said: “It is an invention that will change the life and the quality of home and remote medical assistance to many citizens experiencing health problems and vulnerable people suffering from chronic diseases, ensuring accessibility to care services and the support of our national and international network.”

The “Smart T-shirt” sensor was created by Italian engineering company Proger Group through a start-up, Let’s Webearable Solutions. Proger’s CEO, Umberto Sgambati, said: “From the very first moment, we have believed and invested in what seemed to us a totally revolutionary idea that today is a concrete reality. Certified as a medical device, it has been enriched by the predictive algorithms of cardiovascular disorders of BSP-Medical, the world leader in the field of medical data science.”

The YouCare textile was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2021 which ran in Barcelona to 1 July 2021.