Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered the next must-have item for athletes: a flexible stick-on patch that could monitor exactly when you need to rehydrate.
As reported in Popular Science, this new sweat monitor can be attached to the forearm or lower back to effectively measure electrolyte and glucose levels as well as the sweating rate of the body.
Each stick-on circle has enzymes that react to your sweat’s glucose, lactate, chloride, and pH levels, all of which could give a warning when the body is being overexerted. The stick-on patch works by absorbing sweat and channeling it through tiny capillaries to four circles at the center of the device. With all the data it processes, the patch is practically a laboratory attached to the body.
“Sweat is a rich, chemical broth containing a lot of important compounds with physiological health information,” Rogers said. “By expanding our previously developed ‘epidermal’ electronics platform to include a complex network of microfluidic channels and storage reservoirs, we can now perform biochemical analysis of this important biofluid.”
The device also contains sensors that detect the proximity of a smartphone. When the user or monitor brings a phone close to the device, it automatically triggers an app which takes a photo of the device and analyses the colours of the four reservoirs, which indicates the concentrations of the four species. “We chose these four biomarkers because they provide a characteristic profile that’s relevant to health status information,” Rogers explained. “The device can also determine sweat rate and loss, and it can store samples for subsequent laboratory analysis, if necessary.”
The patch has been trialled on cyclists riding indoors as well as in an Arizonan sportive. They stayed attached to the cyclists while they were exercising and the colour change worked. But the scientists still need to develop the smartphone app necessary to analyse the data.