Xenoma, a venture by University of Tokyo announced that from August 2017, the company will start selling their “e-skin” line of clothing to individual consumers. “E-skin” is a new type of long sleeved top which can measure human movements through motion sensors, just like a “wearable” device. The venture was first established in November 2015. This will be the first commercialization of its kind. Because the company’s mass-production system was established successfully, Xenoma could start selling to general consumers.
According to Xenoma Co-Founder and CEO Ichiro Amimori, who held a press conference at JST on July 19, e-skin utilizes a technology to embed elastic wires and circuits into thin and soft fabric. This technology was developed by a research team headed by Professor Takao Someya at University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering. This extraordinary fabric is named PCF (Printed Circuit Fabric).
According to CEO Amimori, e-skin consists of 14 motion sensors that detect stretching and shrinking of the fabric which can measure the wearer’s movements by not compromising comfort. The sensor detects “distortions” caused by movements of joints and muscles. Such movement data would be transmitted to an outer device through Bluetooth from the “Hub” attached to the chest. The shirt’s weight, elasticity, and durability when stretched do not differ from ordinary clothes and it is washable.
This technology can be applied to game controller devices, precise “motion-judgment” for referees in sports, but eventually it may be used for electrocardiogram and blood sugar monitoring, Amimori predicts.
For general consumers, the company has prepared 100 sets and they will be sold through Kickstarter (a US-based crowd funding site) from August 1 at a price of 479 US Dollars per set. Besides the e-skin top and the Hub, the buyer can choose to add a software development kit for motion-judgment and a mini game app created for e-skin.
Development of PCF was funded as part of JST’s Strategic Basic Research Program ERATO (Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology). Xenoma had boosted its business as a university venture with capital from JST’s program SUCCESS (Support Program for Capital Contribution to Early-Stage Companies) in April 2016. In February 2017, the company had initially started selling e-skin to businesses.