The future of diagnostic wearables?

 

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The University of Tokyo has recently started to develop a new generation of wearable diagnostics. The hypoallergenic electronic sensor wearables are designed to monitor health indicators without being invasive or causing any discomfort.

The electronic sensors are made up of breathable nanoscale meshes that attach directly to the skin to produce accurate and precise readings of heart rate and other health indicators. Japanese scientists believe the new wearables can be worn for up to one week, without causing any irritation. However, if devices are worn over a longer period it is thought they may be deemed unsafe, as they prevent breathability and block airflow causing irritation and inflammation.

“We learned that devices that can be worn for a week or longer for continuous monitoring were needed for practical use in medical and sports applications” says Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering.

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The device can be applied by spraying a small amount of water, which dissolves PVA nanofibres to allow it to stick to the skin. It is designed to fit curvilinear surfaces of skin making it ideal to apply to sweat pores and index fingers.

Scientists are hopeful this is the beginning of a new chapter for wearable diagnostics and hope that it will be possible to measure health indicators without causing stress or discomfort to the user. The device is thought to not only be the future for medical diagnostics, but also have applications for sports technology.

 

 

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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.