Needle punctures not your thing? A group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, is establishing wearable skin sensors that can discover what’s in your sweat.
They hope that a person day, tracking perspiration might bypass the requirement for more intrusive treatments like blood draws, and provide real-time updates on health issues such as dehydration or tiredness.
In a paper appearing today (Friday, August 16) in Science Advances, the group explains a new sensing unit style that can be quickly produced utilizing a “roll-to-roll” processing method that basically prints the sensors onto a sheet of plastic like words on a paper.
They utilized the sensors to keep track of the sweat rate, and the electrolytes and metabolites in sweat, from volunteers who were working out, and others who were experiencing chemically caused perspiration.
“The goal of the project is not just to make the sensors but start to do many subject studies and see what sweat tells us — I always say ‘decoding’ sweat composition,” stated Ali Javey, a teacher of electrical engineering and computer system science at UC Berkeley and senior author on the paper.
“For that we need sensors that are reliable, reproducible, and that we can fabricate to scale so that we can put multiple sensors in different spots of the body and put them on many subjects,” stated Javey, who likewise acts as a professors researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
The new sensors include a spiraling tiny tube, or microfluidic, that wicks sweat from the skin. By tracking how quickly the sweat moves through the microfluidic, the sensors can report just how much an individual is sweating, or their sweat rate.
The microfluidics are likewise equipped with chemical sensors that can discover concentrations of electrolytes like potassium and salt, and metabolites like glucose.
Javey and his group dealt with scientists at the VTT Technical Proving Ground of Finland to establish a method to rapidly produce the sensing unit spots in a roll-to-roll processing method comparable to evaluate printing.
“Roll-to-roll processing enables high-volume production of disposable patches at low cost,” Jussi Hiltunen of VTT stated. “Academic groups gain significant benefit from roll-to-roll technology when the number of test devices is not limiting the research. Additionally, up-scaled fabrication demonstrates the potential to apply the sweat-sensing concept in practical applications.”
To much better comprehend what sweat can state about the real-time health of the body, the scientists initially put the sweat sensors on various areas on volunteers’ bodies — consisting of the forehead, lower arm, underarm and upper back — and determined their sweat rates and the salt and potassium levels in their sweat while they rode on a stationary bicycle.
They discovered that regional sweat rate might suggest the body’s total liquid loss throughout workout, implying that tracking sweat rate may be a method to provide professional athletes a direct when they might be pressing themselves too hard.
“Traditionally what people have done is they would collect sweat from the body for a certain amount of time and then analyze it,” stated Hnin Yin Yin Nyein, a college student in products science and engineering at UC Berkeley and one of the lead authors on the paper. “So you couldn’t really see the dynamic changes very well with good resolution. Using these wearable devices we can now continuously collect data from different parts of the body, for example to understand how the local sweat loss can estimate whole-body fluid loss.”
They likewise utilized the sensors to compare sweat glucose levels and blood sugar levels in healthy and diabetic clients, discovering that a single sweat glucose measurement cannot always suggest an individual’s blood sugar level.
“There’s been a lot of hope that non-invasive sweat tests could replace blood-based measurements for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes, but we’ve shown that there isn’t a simple, universal correlation between sweat and blood glucose levels,” stated Mallika Bariya, a college student in products science and engineering at UC Berkeley and the other lead author on the paper. “This is important for the community to know, so that going forward we focus on investigating individualized or multi-parameter correlations.”
This work was supported by the NSF Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies (NASCENT), the Berkeley Sensing Unit and Actuator Center (BSAC), and the Bakar fellowship.