On hot days, when life seems to mimic a line in the chorus of Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’ banger “Get Low,” our sweat could actually give us important information about how our bodies are doing.
In fact, researchers have gone to the windows and walls to demonstrate the potential of sweat. Unlike wearables that can only measure electrical currents at the skin’s surface (think FitBits and Apple Watches), a sweat-based biosensor could track the concentrations of electrolytes and sugar in the bloodstream and alert the wearer when their levels drop too low.
Now, engineers at The Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed battery-free sweat sensors that can measure several chemicals and give accurate readouts at a range of concentrations. Their sensors can be worn like a necklace or even implanted into the skin, where they would work throughout a user’s lifetime.
“We hope that eventually these sensors can be seamlessly integrated into our personal belongings,” Ohio State engineering researcher and senior author Jinghua Li told Ohio State News. “Some of us may wear necklaces, some may wear earrings or rings. But we believe these sensors could be placed in something we all wear and that it could help us better track our health.”
Sweat biosensors are not a new idea for noninvasive monitoring, but most designs are bulky and require batteries that limit their lifespan. In the new study published on July 6 in Science Advances, the researchers combined typical biosensor design with electrical engineering principles to develop their sensors, which work in the same way as radios tuning into channels do. They then tested how well their flexible biosensors could measure dissolved