Electrodes Explained: A Guide to Prevayl's Fabric Electrodes
Prevayl SmartWear®, at its core, is an ECG-based fitness tracker fused with premium sportswear, thus negating the need of clunky chest straps or any other additional fitness trackers.
It’s clothing that deepens the connection between you and your body.
To achieve this revolutionary meld of technology and clothing, our in-house textile engineer has invented a one-of-a-kind fabric electrode, which lives within each SmartWear® garment to capture the most accurate biometric data from your heart.
Here, we’re sitting down with our Senior Textiles Engineer, Naeem Riaz, to shed some light on this all-important component in the Prevayl ecosystem.
First of all, what are electrodes?
Electrodes are typically electrical conductors that are physically attached to certain spots on the chest, arms, and legs to enable the recording of electrical currents from the heart, which then produces an electrocardiogram (ECG).
In a run-of-the-mill chest strap heart rate monitor, electrodes come in the form of several metallic pads that are wired to a small, sealed and battery-powered electronics circuit where the ECG data is processed – but not Prevayl’s.
So, what makes Prevayl’s electrodes special?
To understand what sets our electrodes apart from our competitors’, we must break down the key challenges our textile engineers had to overcome to create them:
- How to replicate the adhesion of electrodes on your body in clothing, whilst maintaining the contact between skin and metal.
- How to carry the electrical activity from the wearer’s heart to a location where it can be processed, without the use of wires.
- How to bridge the gap between said wires and a device that is capable of processing and/or holding on to the data – all in one piece of garment.
After countless tests, trials and tribulations, we’ve at last cracked the code and created a first-to-market fabric electrode that overcomes all three challenges; and we’ve done it by identifying, adopting and customising some of the world’s most advanced and rarest fibres.
The process of creating our fabric electrodes involves bending and forming pure stainless steel into knitted loops, then fusing them with filler expanding yarn (made from 100% recycled plastic bottles) and Lycra fibre from DuPont to impart stretch and recovery into the base fabric, thereby making it fully usable in any garment type. To stop the construction from falling apart, we use a special sealant fibre which can hold its own after hundreds of wash cycles.
Three years in the making, our fabric electrodes went through numerous iterations before arriving at a point where they can withstand everyday wear without losing conductivity. In fact, bleaches, detergents, fabric softeners, tumble drying, ironing or thousands of rounds of stretching, bending, contorting or manual handling have had zero impact on them.
It’s the most resilient, hard-wearing, sensitive and easily manufactured electrode assembly ever made. And it’s 100% pure fabric!
Can Prevayl’s electrodes be replicated?
Developing intellectual property (IP) that protects our innovations for now and the future is a key part of the Prevayl culture. That’s why our fabric electrodes are patented, which means when you wear Prevayl, you’re wearing an invention that’s truly unique and unmatched by any other.
Why do I need to wet the electrodes?
Your heart generates an electrical current every time it beats. However, dry skin isn’t quite conductive enough for electrodes to pick up this current. To enable communication between the skin and the electrodes, you need moisture on the skin to help start the process of carrying the currents across – akin to starting your engine before you start driving.
As you train, your sweat will act as an amplifier to keep your signal strong throughout the workout. So be sure to wet before you sweat, and get those electrodes thoroughly saturated before a workout!
Do I need to replace the electrodes?
Unlike medical-grade electrodes, which have to be disposed of after each use, our electrodes are completely machine washable so you can throw the garment into the washing machine and wear them again in the next session, reducing waste and lessening our impact on the environment.
Do the electrodes emit electricity?
No. Our electrodes are designed to receive electrical signals from your heart, not to impart or emit anything. The current flows one way from your body to the garment, so no electricity is sent into your body.
If you’re unsure whether Prevayl is a good fit for someone with a pacemaker, we advise that you consult your doctor before training in it.