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New Wearables Can Measure Body Chemistry

New monitoring device may aid exercise training and recovery by measuring metabolite levels.

Wearable tracker measures metabolite levels

Photo credit: Murat Yokus, NC State University.


A new wearable tracker, developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, can measure—in almost real time—multiple metabolic markers and metabolite levels, formerly measurable only in a lab.

“The device is the size of an average watch, but contains analytical equipment equivalent to four of the bulky electrochemistry devices currently used to measure metabolite levels in the lab,” said study author Michael Daniele, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at NC State. “For this proof-of-concept study, we tested sweat from human participants and monitored for glucose, lactate, pH and temperature.”

The device has a replaceable strip embedded with chemical sensors. When the strip comes into contact with skin, it analyzes data from sweat and then transmits the information to a smartphone or smartwatch. Potential applications include being used in athletic or military training to detect dehydration, lactate levels or other health issues. More testing is underway to determine usage under different conditions. The researchers are exploring commercialization options.

The study is available in Biosensors and Bioelectronics (2020; doi:10.1016/j.bios.2020.112038).

See also: New Era of Wearable Technologies

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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