Clothing that provides useful information for health markers
Engineers at Tufts University have created a flexible electronic patch that can be sewn into clothing to analyze perspiration and obtain useful information for multiple markers. The patch can be used to diagnose and monitor acute and chronic health conditions or to monitor health during sports performance or at work. The device, described last week in the journal NPJ Flexible Electronics, consists of special detection wires, flexible electronic components and wireless connectivity for real-time data acquisition, storage and processing.
Typical health monitors can track heart rate, temperature, glucose, walking distance, and other raw measurements. But a more detailed understanding of a person’s health, stress, and performance is needed to collect medical data or high-performance athletic or military applications. In particular, metabolic markers such as electrolytes and other biological molecules provide a more direct indicator of human health for accurate assessment of athletic performance, safety at work, clinical diagnosis and management of chronic health conditions.
The patch created by Tufts engineers performs real-time measurements of important biomarkers present in perspiration, including sodium and ammonium ions (electrolytes), lactate (a metabolite) and acidity (pH). The device’s platform is versatile enough to incorporate a wide range of sensors capable of tracking almost every marker present in sweat. The measurements taken can have useful diagnostic applications. For example, sodium in perspiration may indicate hydration and electrolyte imbalance; lactate concentration may be an indicator of muscle fatigue; chlorine ion levels can be used to diagnose and monitor cystic fibrosis; Cortisol, a stress hormone, can be used to assess emotional stress as well as metabolic and immune functions.
Athletes could monitor a wide range of markers during exercise to help anticipate variation in performance during competitions. The range of wire sensors is integrated into clothing or a patch and is connected to a miniature circuit module and microprocessor, with the wireless capability to communicate with a smartphone.
“Sweat is a useful fluid for heat monitoring because it is easily accessible and can be collected non-invasively,” said Trupti Terse-Thakoor, a scientist at Tufts University School of Engineering and the study’s lead author. Existing markers in sweat also correlate well with blood plasma levels, making it an excellent diagnostic fluid.
The researchers tested the device on human subjects, monitoring the response of the electrolyte and metabolites during a maximum exercise exercise on stationary bicycles.
“The sensor patch developed is part of a larger strategy to create fully flexible wire-based electronic devices,” said Sameer Sonkusale, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Tufts School of Engineering and author of the study. With this type of flexible fabric devices that act directly on the skin, health and performance can be monitored not only non-invasively, but completely discreetly – the wearer may not feel or notice it.
Of course, these devices only measure health, they do not improve it. In this regard, the Dahna app is the assistant you need to eat healthier. Moreover, Dahna helps you gain time for shopping and cooking and not throwing away food or ingredients. Download it now and discover a lot of other benefits!