A team of scientists is developing wearable skin sensors that can detect what’s in your sweat. They hope that monitoring perspiration could bypass the need for more invasive procedures like blood draws and provide real-time updates on health problems such as dehydration or fatigue.
The new sensor design can be rapidly manufactured using a “roll-to-roll” processing technique that essentially prints the sensors onto a sheet of plastic like words on a newspaper.
The researchers used the sensors to monitor the sweat rate, and the electrolytes and metabolites in sweat, from volunteers who were exercising, and others who were experiencing chemically induced perspiration.
The new sensors contain a spiraling microscopic tube, or microfluidic, that wicks sweat from the skin. By tracking how fast the sweat moves through the microfluidic, the sensors can report how much a person is sweating, or their sweat rate.
The microfluidics are also outfitted with chemical sensors that can detect concentrations of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, and metabolites like glucose.