♪ MUSIC ♪ MILES O’BRIEN: What if a piece of clothing could alert you when pollution like smog is about to take its toll on your heart or lungs? That’s what’s in the air at ASSIST – The Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies. VEENA MISRA: What if you have a few different platforms on here, one on the chest, one on the wrist? MILES O’BRIEN: With support from the National Science Foundation, electrical engineer Veena Misra and her team at North Carolina State University are using nanotechnology to develop small wearable sensors that will monitor a person’s immediate environment and vital signs. VEENA MISRA: One part of the sensor, for example if it’s located on the wrist, can monitor your hydration levels, your heart rate, your EKG, if it’s located a little bit above in the arm. The same platform can also be used to monitor the environment. And there we’re looking at gases such as ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxides. And so our technologies will really enable that connection, and help people make better decisions and also prevent themselves from getting exposed to toxins in the environment that can exacerbate certain conditions like asthma. DR. DAVID PEDEN: This is the kind of testing we would do… MILES O’BRIEN: Asthma specialist Dr. David Peden is helping the team test the effectiveness of the prototypes to serve as an early warning system. DR. DAVID PEDEN: So that people can get a real time understanding of how their personal environment might be affecting their health and be able to say, okay, I’ve had enough pollution right now and I need to get out of it for a while or I need to change my activity level. MILES O’BRIEN: Misra’s team is also developing small nanotechnology devices that don’t use batteries and so will never need a recharge. VEENA MISRA: Our technologies will harvest power from the human body. The other thing that getting away from battery gets you is the form factor. We can embed it inside clothing because the battery is no longer the limiting size in the platform’s requirements. MILES O’BRIEN: This clean room is where the sensor components are manufactured. Eventually, they will be embedded on low energy chips. Mehmet Ozturk says comfort is a must. MEHMET OZTURK: We are trying to do is create flexible energy harvesters that go on the human body. So the goal is essentially rely on heat and motion to generate all the electrical energy we need, so that we can power our devices. MILES O’BRIEN: The plan is for the device to send data wirelessly to the wearer’s cell phone – even to a doctor. VEENA MISRA: Five to ten years from now we would like to see our technologies inside wearable health devices that are really changing the way patients are taking care of their health and also changing the way doctors prescribe treatments for patients. MILES O’BRIEN: So update your wardrobe to improve your health? That’s quite a fashion statement. For Science Nation, I’m Miles O’Brien.