Arguably, wearables have proven the most useful when it comes the health and fitness arena. Some of the most popular and widely used devices, like the Fitbit, cater to an individual’s need to know how their body is performing in some fashion. With that health-consciousness in mind, scientists have decided to take it one step further and develop sensors that could be placed into wearables like headbands or wristbands that monitor your sweat and body chemicals at a molecular level. It’s biology gone wild, and it’s all wrapped around your wrist.
Testing these sensors, which were embedded into a translucent bracelet, scientists were able to monitor the concentration of different chemicals in a wearer’s sweat through a circuit board and sensory array that could measure and detect this information and transmit the data to a user’s phone via Bluetooth. Glucose, sodium, lactate and potassium were paid special attention, enabling scientists to analyze conditions like dehydration based on the amount of sodium present in their sweat, low blood sugar based on glucose levels and muscle fatigue based on lactate.
With sweat known to contain a cornucopia of other chemicals like proteins, electrolytes and even heavy metals, these sensors could be deployed for numerous health advantages. In fact, University of California at Berkeley professor and lead author of this study, Ali Javey, went so far to say this could bring complex pathology procedures into the hands of everyday people: “I think if you could have a pathology lab on your hand, that would be an amazing breakthrough for humanity as a whole.”
Analyzing sweat is the primary way doctors diagnose cystic fibrosis, as well as a main component in testing for the presence of drugs and toxins in one’s system. By advancing this sort of wearable tech, scientists theorize that sweat sensors could give people the ability to monitor stress levels through cortisol present in their sweat, or control drug dosing by seeing how quickly a subject can metabolize a given drug. Naturally, more research must be conducted for this technology to meet those abilities, but the field has been cracked wide open and looks promising.