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Heat test for clothes invented

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BOISE, Idaho — A professor at Boise State University helped invent new technology that could make work safer for firefighters, soldiers, industrial workers and athletes.

Invented by BSU professor Uwe Reischl and University of South Florida professor Francis N. Dukes-Dobos, the system tests how well protective clothing stands up to heat using an "inflatable thermal mannequin."

Clothing is placed on the mannequin and subjected to a battery of tests. The mannequin eliminates the need for tests involving humans and allows researchers to analyze more severe types of climates.

The system also costs a fraction of the $1 million currently needed to perform similar tests.

"Because of its low cost and simplicity, the new technology could enable individual fire departments to test their own garments to see which configurations would work best for the climatic and environmental conditions prevailing in a particular situation," Reischl said.

Along with testing for protection against external heat, the system could also be used to make sure clothing has adequate ventilation for body heat.

"Not only the fire departments and the military would benefit from this new technology, but also the private sector," Reischl said. The system has applications for sports clothing manufacturers as well, he added.

The technology was officially awarded a U.S. patent in June. The University of South Florida is looking for industry participation in licensing the technology internationally.