They say bracelets and watches are taking on a new meaning – as “wearables”, whether they count the steps we take during the day or monitor the quality of our sleep. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (USA) have developed a bandaid-like wearable gadget with a sensor that measures electrolytes, metabolites and proteins in perspiration and which could prove to be of diagnostic value.
Using perspiration to diagnose certain diseases is nothing new; cystic fibrosis can be ruled out by this method, for intance, and perspiration has also been used to determine drug intake. But the Novel Devices Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati (USA) has gone a step further: Jason Heickenfel and his team have developed a wearable gadget consisting of material that absorbs perspiration, a circuit that calculates perspiration levels of certain ions, e.g., sodium, and a unit for radio frequency transmission of this data to a smartphone.
The idea is that this kind of data can be included in wearables – such as activity trackers, and so could be used to warn athletes of imbalances that could lead to muscle damage and to alert sedentary people regarding problems reflected in lactate, creatinine, glucose or uric acid levels.
However, these scientists recognize that it is still not possible to ensure exact correspondence between these measurements and those in blood; hence, for example, controlling glucose via perspiration is still not possible
(Illustrations courtesy of Dottie Stover, University of Cincinnati).