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Hexoskin is the commercial version of a prototype shirt called Astroskin, which was tested last year during a 45-day mission in Antarctica. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) hopes to fly a version of this shirt in space, although a flight date has not been set.
Montreal-based Hexoskin has been expanding its line of products in the past year, including shirts tailored for winter activities and a new line aimed at attracting teenagers. The data for Hexoskin can be downloaded to various types of software, CEO Pierre-Alexandre Fournier told Space.com.
"We want people to conduct research in a real-life context instead of doing health research in a clinical environment, a controlled environment, such as making people run on treadmills," Fournier said. "We want to know what happens to people when they climb mountains, what happens to people when they take walks around the city, when they stay at home, when they sleep at home."
In addition to its possible space applications, the technology has been touted as a tool to help monitor the health of residents in remote communities. This is especially relevant in Canada, where many thousands of residents live in northern, rural areas.
Hexoskin and the CSA are also looking at how the health of seniors relates to the health of astronauts, as many effects of aging are observed in orbit: bone loss, muscle weakness and blood-flow changes, to name a few. Fournier said 100 groups in 12 countries are doing health research with Hexoskin.