New Sensors Track the Chemicals in Your Sweat as You Work Out

First Posted: Feb 01, 2016 08:35 AM EST

New sensors that look at your sweat may reveal a lot about you as you work out. Scientists have created a flexible sensor system that can measure metabolites and electrolytes in sweat, calibrate the data based upon skin temperature and sync the results in real time to a smartphone.

The use of health monitors have exploded onto the consumer electronics scene over the past decade. This latest device, though, is the first fully integrated electronic system that can provide continuous, non-invasive monitoring of multiple biochemical in sweat.

"Human sweat contains physiologically rich information, thus making it an attractive body fluid for non-invasive wearable sensors," said Ali Javey, one of the researchers, in a news release. "However, sweat is complex and it is necessary to measure multiple targets to extract meaningful information about your state of health. In this regard, we have developed a fully integrated system that simultaneously and selectively measures multiple sweat analytes and wirelessly transmits the processed data to a smartphone. Our work presents a technology platform for sweat-based heart monitors."

In order to help design the sweat sensor system, the researchers consumed exercise physiologist George Brooks. They then developed a prototype which packs five sensors into a flexible circuit board. The sensors measure the metabolites glucose and lactate, the electrolytes sodium and potassium, and skin temperature.

The researchers then placed the device on volunteers and had them do various indoor and outdoor exercise. It worked well, and researchers are hoping to create a sleeker version of the device for future use.

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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