FL University Plans Happy Suit for Astronauts


LAKELAND (970 WFLA) -- Astronauts in the future won't be able to take doctors and psychiatrists along on long space missions... but they might have something that could adjust to anxiety or stress in real time. 

Scientists at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland are working on a so-called "happy suit" to monitor astronauts moods and make changes to their environment.

Dr. Arman Sargolzaei  says it could be very useful as explorers begin making longer trips to more distant destinations, such as Mars. "We (think) it's going to be one of the major changes for astronauts in the future... (to use) this technology to have active changes based on health information," he said. 

Sargolzaei, fellow FPU professor Dr. Melba Horton, and computer science student James Holland are developing what they call a Smart Sensory Skin, along with Sargolzaei's brother, who's a professor at UCLA in California. 

The product would incorporate wireless sensors into clothing, so that physicians can also monitor pulse rate, blood pressure and joint angles. Some of that monitoring is possible now, but it's cumbersome and can't be used until a physician reviews it. 

The "happy suit" can feed real time data to devices that can adjust oxygen and light levels, among other factors, to combat astronaut stress.