A project at Finland's Aalto University is researching the possibility of using knitting to identify and diagnose breathing problems in children.
Using a 3D model reprrsenting a 2 to 3 year old child, complete with motors to reproduce the different movements of a human body, the original used textiles sewn together to represent skin. This textile has proved to be a problem. It does not fit well and, of course, has seams. Here is where knitting is helping. Through the use of different techniques and stitches, the muscles and sinews underlying a human skin can be accurately recreated. Using elastic yarn introduces a more true-to-life feel and reaction to the movements of the model, which is connected to computers so that machines can learn about problems and diagnose more accurately.
While it may seem like a simple enough project at first glance, a deeper look shows just how complex it is to create such a textile. You can download the pdf of the project here - link at the bottom of the page - and see photographs too of the process of making this textile. What a useful idea this could prove to be.