Researchers Develop a Low-Cost, 3D-Printable Sweat Sensor for Non-Invasive Health Insights

Designed for comfort and flexibility, this low-cost sensor communicates wirelessly with a nearby smartphone or computer for analysis.

An international team of researchers is working on a 3D-printable sweat sensor designed to provide insight into the wearer's health — promising that it could be produced quickly and at a low cost.

"The chemical composition and physical information derived from sweat are of great value in terms of how it reflects human health status," explains Woo Soo Kim, researcher at Simon Fraser University and a member of the team working on the technology. "Direct sweat collection from the skin surface is an easy-to-perform, straightforward method that avoids privacy concerns in physical implementation. These features mean that sweat has the potential to become a widely accessible sample type that can be monitored in a non-invasive manner."

Following the completion of a study into the state of the art in wearable, flexible sensors for sweat analysis, published in the journal Bio-Design and Manufacturing late last year, the team has been working on its own wearable device — designed to be produced at a low cost by printing electrodes into a rubber substrate.

The sensor, precise specifications and details of which have not yet been released, is claimed to be mechanically flexible — so as to provide comfort to the wearer and not come dislodged during activity — and includes both electrochemical sensors for analyzing sweat metabolites and wireless hardware for communicating captured data to a smartphone or computer for later analysis.

Kim and colleagues aren't the only ones investigating sweat as a non-invasive means of inferring health and fitness: In the past year we've seen sweat sensors designed for monitoring blood glucose levels, stress and infection levels, COVID-19 infections, hydration levels, and even devices designed to convert sweat into usable energy.

The team has not yet published on the topic of its own wearable design.

Main article image courtesy of Simon Fraser University, CC-BY.

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