There are 400 million diabetics worldwide, and a new smart necklace that can detect many chemicals and concentrations in sweat could significantly improve their quality of life by removing the requirement for finger-prick blood testing.
The instrument has a clasp and pendant with a bio-chemical sensor on the back that, when worn around the neck, records levels of serotonin and glucose.
Ohio State University engineers demonstrated the smart necklace’s ability to monitor the concentrations of sodium, potassium and hydrogen ions from a subject’s sweat with close to 98.9 % during a human testing.
The company also sees their bio-sensors being implanted under the skin or incorporated to jewellery like rings and earrings to alert wearers to changes in their health.
Sweat contains thousands of biomarkers that provide information about our health status, according to study co-author Jinghua Li.
In a statement, she stated that “the next generation of biosensors would be so incredibly bio-intuitive and non-invasive that we will be able to detect important information stored in an individual’s body fluids.”
Li added that since the sensor is so small, only a trace amount of sweat is required to obtain a reading.
The smart necklace was worn by a volunteer as they cycled for 30 minutes in the first human testing of the device, which were carried out by Li and her team.
The individual then took a 15-minute pause, drank a beverage with added sugar, and started riding again.
The findings demonstrate that within 30 to 40 minutes after sugar intake, the glucose concentration in sweat peaks in all cases.
The scientists wrote in the study, which was published in Science Advances, “The results reveal a far less spike in glucose concentration thereafter, which implies that ingesting sugar can cause a rise in the quantity of glucose in sweat.”
Even though it will be some time before a device resembling the prototype used in this study is made accessible to the general public, Li says that the team is already considering how to help the people who will need this possibly life-saving technology the most.
The sensors are created out of materials that are incredibly thin rather than the thick and rigid computer chips present in our phones and laptops.
The product is extremely flexible thanks to this design, which also safeguards the device’s functionality and guarantees that it can safely contact a person’s skin.
Li said she envisions it as a lightweight device with straightforward circuit designs that could be easily incorporated into our daily lives, even if the paper mentions that even more miniaturisation would make it more viable for this and related devices to become implantable.
Although this biosensor is intended to track health, other wearable unveiled last year may determine whether the wearer is burnt out.
The technique, created by engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and start-up Xsensio, measures cortisol levels in sweat.
According to the researchers, the gadget offers both great sensitivity and extremely low detection limits and is applied directly to the wearer’s skin.
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