NTU researchers to develop smart textiles that detect pilot stress levels


Researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK are set to develop smart textiles that will able to monitor stress levels in aircraft pilots.

Led by professor Tilak Dias, NTU’s Advanced Textiles Research Group will explore how smart textiles embedded in cockpit seats and pilot clothing can measure anxiety.

The new textiles will be developed to monitor various indicators of stress, including a variable heart rate, perspiration and body temperature. Multiple sensors will be embedded into the yarns used to make clothing and textiles.

The textiles will be able to monitor heart rates through an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor system, making it possible to check fatigue and tell when a pilot is losing attentiveness.

Dias said: “By using smart textiles, we’re able to provide new prognostic and diagnostic techniques for pilot monitoring in a completely non-intrusive way.

“This will enable the collection of data which will indicate the psychological experiences a pilot goes through while navigating a plane, potentially through unknown situations.”

“By using smart textiles, we’re able to provide new prognostic and diagnostic techniques for pilot monitoring in a completely non-intrusive way."

NTU senior lecturer and researcher William Hurley will also join Dias in the new smart textiles research, a part of the Active Simulator Cockpit Enhancement (ASCENT) project, which has received £1.24m in funding from the European Commission.

Hurley said: “The data collected via the smart textiles technology will be invaluable for the training and development of pilots and help pave the way for new technologies to be integrated into the cockpit quicker.

“By monitoring a pilot’s mental state while testing any new technologies in a simulator, a better understanding can be developed of how these technologies can be integrated into a cockpit.”

Other ASCENT project co-investigators will also focus on aspects such as the development of eye-tracking technology, a lighting system to emulate the parallel ambient light of the sun, and the design of a user-intuitive cockpit.


Image: Nottingham Trent University’s Advanced Textiles Research Group professor Tilak Dias. Photo: courtesy of Nottingham Trent University.