Chemical Sweat Sensors, Originally Developed to Sell Drinks, Could Aid in the COVID-19 Fight

A technology to tell athletes how much Gatorade to drink has been pivoted to monitor cytokine levels and may assist in monitoring COVID-19.

A technology developed to sell sports drinks could assist in COVID-19 monitoring. (πŸ“·: Epicore Biosystems)

Sweat sensors are typically aimed at athletes and those with health conditions like diabetes requiring long-term monitoring, but a team at Epicore Biosystems is hoping to turn its sensors into devices for the fight against COVID-19.

Like many sweat sensors, Epicore Biosystems' wearable patches began life as a device for athletes: Created in partnership with Gatorade, the chemical-driven sensors measure sweat and its concentration of sodium chloride in order to ascertain how dehydrated an individual is becoming β€” and to recommend, of course, how much Gatorade would fix the problem.

The company has now, like may others, turned its attention to the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Using the same technology as its Gatorade-branded patches, Epicore claims it can measure cytokine levels β€” alerting to an impending cytokine storm, a response to the disease from the body's immune system which can trigger life-threatening inflammation.

It has also showcased a wearable designed to be integrated into N95 and higher respirator masks, which the company claims can track changes in respiration, temperature, and moisture over a longer period of time β€” a means of measuring both the wearer's likely exhaustion level as well as the efficacy of the mask, warning if it becomes saturated from condensation and unable to properly protect the wearer.

More information on the company's work, and its pivot to the fight against COVID-19, can be found in an IEEE Spectrum showcase.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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