New Advance In Wearables

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A new soft, flexible microfluidic device sticks on forearm or back skin to measure sweat and show how the body is responding to exercise. The small, simple, low cost device analyses key biomarkers to help a person decide quickly if any adjustments, such as drinking more water or replenishing electrolytes, is needed, or if something is medically wrong.

It is designed for one-time use of a few hours and features a number of innovations including:

• The ability to capture, store and analyse sweat in situ and in real time
• Can quantitatively determine biomarker levels using colorimetric analysis
• A power source is not required to display the results; instead, a smartphone camera and app are used to read the biomarker change

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The device’s sensitivity even enables it to pick up the biomarker for cystic fibrosis and it is hoped that in future it may be used more broadly for disease diagnosis.

Study leader John A. Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering, discussed the device: “The intimate skin interface created by this wearable, skin-like microfluidic system enables new measurement capabilities not possible with the kinds of absorbent pads and sponges currently used in sweat collection.”

The team have studied the efficacy of the device in two groups of cyclists and found it to be both accurate compared to conventional lab analysis and durable in unpredictable environmental conditions. Their findings were published on 23rd November in Science Translational Medicine.

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