Biomarker sensors have gained popularity over the last several years with the rise of devices like the Fitbit, which allows wearers to measure daily steps and heart rate. Even with such an illustrious reputation, Fitbit can only accomplish so much. The bulky effect found in some Fitbit models it can get in the way for users and it’s limited to only measuring mechanical activities. It seems about time for an upgrade.
Development is underway on a biomarker skin patch that doesn’t require batteries. A team of international researchers has published a paper in the Science Advances journal to provide in-depth knowledge of the device and how it works. While their device is similar to that of a Fitbit, a wearable device, it differs in a key component: measuring biological processes in real time. The skin patch developed by the team will be able to read information about the inner body by testing the wearer’s sweat.
Featuring small holes to pull in sweat, the patch attaches to skin with ease and continuously takes small samples of sweat throughout the day. Once the sweat is absorbed, it moves through micro-channels leading to collection chambers that serve as test sites. One chamber measures how much sweat the user produces, and another assesses pH levels through color change. In other chambers, there are chemical reagents that react to lactate or glucose.
The patch is powered by radio waves released by electronic devices. Data from the device can be read by a smartphone and easily converted into forms for users or doctors to interpret. Researchers say, “elements in sweat include markers for things like cystic fibrosis, dehydration and electrolyte levels. The patch could also provide athletes with a real-time test of how their body is holding up during competition.”
This biomarker format is favorable over devices that strap to the body because they can be used in every environment, including underwater. For the frugal consumer, a top selling point is that the channel portion of the patch is disposable so the patch can be used a number of times.