Using a special three-dimensional loom, Smart Textiles researcher Siw Eriksson weaves textile electrodes at the Swedish School of Textiles. She wants to make life less complicated for premature infants, who often sustain pressure injuries to their heads due to current EEC measurement methods.

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The measurement methods used today comprises metal electrodes and requires gel to be attached to the skin. Also, the electrodes are attached one by one, in a certain order.
– It’s a time consuming procedure and the electrodes often cause pressure injuries to the heads of premature infants and the contact gel causes skin irritations, Siw Eriksson explains.

Instead, she uses a single process to weave a kind of cap consisting of electrodes in electrically conductive silver yarn and the strings that hold the electrodes together. It has all been meticulously calculated to have the electrodes follow the system and find the proper positions on the baby’s head. In order to eliminate the contact gel, she has added a material that conserves moisture and maintains contact with the skin. Prototypes have been woven in a hand loom rebuilt to weave three-dimensional structures.
– My goal has been to weave everything in a single production process., which I’ve succeeded in doing now. My next step is to downsize the cap using a thinner material, she explains and shows a new, gossamer-thin yarn which is soon to be tested.

The importance of handicraft

Prior to becoming a researcher in smart textiles with a focus on resource-smart processes at the Swedish School of Textiles, Siw Eriksson worked as a product developer, among other things. She emphasizes that her broad range of handicraft skills is an important part of the research process.
– The tests I’ve performed would never have been possible to run in a weaving machine. By using a hand loom, I’ve been able to come closer to the process and spot the problems directly when the process has not produced the desired results.

The project, which is interdisciplinary, has the expertise of different fields collaborating. In addition to Siw Eriksson, Smart Textiles doctoral student Li Gou and weaving technician Hanna Lindholm at the Swedish School of Textiles have added their textile expertise to the project. Also, neurophysiologist Magnus Thordstein at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Johan Löfhede and Leif Sandsjö at the School of Engineering, University of Borås, and the regional network MedTech West participate in the project. The last two have brought much of the knowledge about how to transfer signals registered in the brain to a data system.

– There’s another dimension in my research apart from the three-dimensional weaving process. I also examine the creative process in an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary project team, which is what we are. I want to understand what causes a positive creative development – and what doesn’t – in order to facilitate for several disciplines working together and to enable future innovations, Siw Eriksson concludes.

Footnote
: Caps used to take EEG readings on preterm infants are already in use today. However, as was the case with the the old method, they cause pressure injuries.

– When I’m working on something that does not involve my loom, I always spread everything over a table like this. It’s part of the process, Siw Eriksson says.