Global recognition for Kiwi-made intelligent textile

Media Release

Footfalls & Heartbeats is gaining global recognition after a life jacket designed with the textile won a top prize in an international design competition.

The fabric, which measures breathing and heart rates, has been used in developing a concept revival vest for divers which responds to changes in bodily signs by inflating and taking the wearer to the surface in an upright position, ready for resuscitation. The vest won Victoria University industrial design graduate James McNab second equal placing in a global design competition run by the British-based James Dyson Foundation

Unlike other monitoring devices on the market, the ground breaking sensor material designed and developed by Footfalls and Heartbeats does not require wires, straps or miniature electronics. Instead, by using nanontechnology and textile structure, the company’s fabric is the sensor.

It is durable and comfortable to wear, working with the body and allowing maximum movement.

Footfalls and Heartbeats was founded by New Zealand chemistry researcher Simon McMaster and has received research and development funding from the government.

Auckland University of Technology and crown research institute AgResearch have both been involved in developing the fabric.

Start-up investment firm Pacific Channel, which works with inventors to create high growth companies, is currently completing a market assessment with Footfalls and Heartbeats and will soon be looking for commercial and other investment partners to take the start-up to the next level.

Pacific Channel Managing Director Brent Ogilvie says, ahead of capital raising for Footfalls & Heartbeats, the competition win confirms the strong market potential of the company’s world-class technology.

“There are opportunities to use Footfalls & Heartbeats’ unique fabric in a wide range of areas including medical devices, medical monitoring during tests like electrocardiograms, infant monitoring, pressure sensing in wheelchairs and beds, and performance monitoring for top athletes,” says Ogilvie

One early application is expected to be compression bandages for use on diabetic ulcers.

“Footfalls & Heartbeats is an example of the growing number of high calibre and innovative companies being established in New Zealand that we are working with,” says Ogilvie.

Simon McMaster says seeing the fabric gain a top placing in the prestigious James Dyson competition is fantastic news for the company.

“It’s great to see word getting out about our novel and truly intelligent fabric.”

For further information and media enquiries, contact

Simon McMaster Tel +64 (0)21 1355062 (NZ); +44 (0) 7743558942 (United Kingdom)

Brent Ogilvie Tel +64 (0)21 605566; +64 (0)9 3040868

About Footfalls & Heartbeats

Footfalls & Heartbeats has developed a process for designing and manufacturing textiles where the textile itself can perform a sensory function.  Potential markets include medical compression bandages, ambulatory ECG, athletes, fitness and wellness advocates, emergency responders, infants and aged care.

About Pacific Channel

Pacific Channel is New Zealand’s leading venture creation, development and investment firm focused on start-up and early-stage material and life-sciences and clean-tech innovation. Through its expertise, seed funds and access to external capital, Pacific Channel creates, builds and funds high growth potential companies.

About the James Dyson Award

The James Dyson Award is an international student design award running in 18 countries. It’s run by the British-based James Dyson Foundation as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers to be creative, challenge and invent. For the vest project application please see: