Low-Cost Watch-Style Wearable Measures Sweat Metabolites for Health, Athletic Performance Tracking

Watch-like wearable costing "tens of dollars" and with sensor strips priced like glucose test strips could revolutionise health monitoring.

The strip on the right is folded under the "watch" to sample the wearer's sweat. (πŸ“·:Yokus et al)

Researchers from North Carolina State University have demonstrated a watch-form factor metabolite monitor capable of tracking the wearer's body chemistry in near-real-time for everything from health monitoring to athletic performance tracking.

"This technology allows us to test for a wide range of metabolites in almost real time," explains Assistant Professor Michael Daniele, co-corresponding author of the study. "For this proof-of-concept study, we tested sweat from human participants and monitored for glucose, lactate, pH, and temperature. The device is the size of an average watch, but contains analytical equipment equivalent to four of the bulky electrochemistry devices currently used to measure metabolite levels in the lab.

"We're optimistic that this hardware could enable new technologies to reduce casualties during military or athletic training, by spotting health problems before they become critical. It could also improve training by allowing users to track their performance over time. For example, what combination of diet and other variables improves a user's ability to perform?"

The device itself includes a replaceable strip, sandwiched between the watch and the wearer's skin, which measures metabolites from sweat β€” and it does so at a hardware cost measured in the tens, rather than hundreds, of dollars. "And the cost of the strips," Daniele adds, "which can last for at least a day, should be comparable to the glucose strips used by people with diabetes. We're currently looking for industry partners to help us explore commercialisation options for this technology."

More information is available in the team's paper, published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics under closed-access terms.

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