UC Berkeley engineers have developed new wearable sensors that can measure skin temperature, as well as glucose, lactate, sodium and potassium in sweat.
As it turns out, future wearable devices may not be as interested in your activities, as they are the sweat produced during them. That’s because engineers at UC Berkeley have developed a flexible sensor system capable of measuring metabolites and electrolytes in sweat and sending the results to a smartphone in real-time.
According to researchers, these bendable plastic patches can be easily implemented into bands for the wrist and head, and provide early warnings to health problems such as fatigue and dangerously high temperatures.
“Human sweat contains physiologically rich information, thus making it an attractive body fluid for non-invasive wearable sensors,” explained Ali Javey, a UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.
The prototype consists of five sensors and a flexible circuit with (what would appear to be an Atmel) MCU and a Bluetooth transceiver. This board measures the concentration of various chemicals in sweat and skin temperature, calibrates the information and then sends it over to its accompanying mobile app.
To test their proof-of-concept, the engineers put the device and more than two dozen volunteers through various indoor and outdoor exercises, such as riding stationary bikes and running trails. In doing so, the team kept tabs on sodium, potassium, glucose and lactate. Monitoring electrolytes like sodium and potassium may help track conditions, and can ultimately be utilized to assess a user’s state of health.
“When studying the effects of exercise on human physiology, we typically take blood samples. With this non-invasive technology, someday it may be possible to know what’s going on physiologically without needle sticks or attaching little, disposable cups on you,” added physiologist George Brooks, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.
Intrigued? Learn all about the wearable sweat sensor here, or watch the team’s video below!