Hand-made embroidered electromyography: Towards a solution for low-income countries

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Surface electromyography is used for non-invasive evaluations of the neuromuscular system and conventionally involves electrodes placed on the skin to collect electrical signals associated with muscle activity. Recently, embroidered electrodes have been presented as a low-cost alternative to the current commercial solutions. However, the high cost of equipment used in their fabrication forms a barrier to deployment. To address this, this paper presents the first study into the hand-sewing of electrodes for surface electromyography to assess its feasibility as an affordable, alternative means of production. In experiments reported here, batches of hand-sewn electrodes from six novice embroiderers are tested for (i) manufacturing consistency, and (ii) myographic data acquisition against conventional gelled and machine-sewn electrodes. First, the electrical properties of the created electrodes are assessed through simple resistance measurements. Then, linear regression is performed using electromyography data to test if force-variation detection is feasible. The results demonstrate that hand-sewn electrodes provide similar sensitivity to force variation as their machine-sewn counterparts according to the linear regression gradients calculated (8.84 using the hand-sewn electrodes and 9.38 using the machine-sewn electrodes, on the flexor muscles of the forearm). This suggests that hand-made, low-cost textile interfaces could be deployed using local production in developing economies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3347
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020


  • Smart textile
  • Surface electromyography
  • Textile electrodes


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