A group of researchers is developing a new gadget capable of transmitting information regarding a patient’s health directly to his smartphone. This revolutionary piece of technology can be placed straight on the skin and worn while doing physical exercises. Once the body starts to sweat, the gadget’s sensors will pick up data collected from the droplets and send it to the owner’s smartphone.
According to the developers, this could be the easiest way one could track his health while engaging in sports or other physically demanding activities, like competitive cycling and weightlifting competitions. The skin patch is a little over a quarter in size and sticks directly to the skin.
John Rogers is the head of the Northwestern University Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics and also conducted the research. According to Mr. Rogers, the biochemical components found is human sweat can reveal a great deal of information about one’s health. Furthermore, John Rogers believes that a biosensor that could be applied directly to the skin will serve many other purposes than just tracking calories and heart rate.
For fitness enthusiasts, this gadget can be used exactly for that. However, Mr. Rogers wants to further develop his creation so that it could ultimately serve for military and medical purposes.
How Does the Skin Patch Work?
The small gadget contains a function that is able of analyzing small amounts of human sweat through a process named microfluidics. Once the channels collect the body fluids, they end up in a compartment filled with different chemicals. When the substances mix together, the chemicals turn different colors and alert the user of sweat loss, glucose and chloride levels, and the sweat acidity levels.
Furthermore, the skin patch will indicate electrolyte loss and hydration levels. The gadget comes with a smartphone app. The user can take a picture of the tiny gadget on his skin, and the smartphone app will interpret the colors and give out an accurate reading.
The team of researchers tested the skin patch on 21 healthy volunteers.
“It seems really practical”, says chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao from Stanford University.
However, the first prototypes can only work for a few hours at a time and are meant for single use. Nevertheless, John Rogers says he is going to build a new gadget, capable of multiple and continuous measurements over longer periods of time.
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