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Wearable sweat sensor can provide real-time data about your metabolism

It’s amazing how much information can be derived about a person’s metabolism simply from analyzing their sweat. The problem, however, is that such tests are typically run with the help of bulky equipment in lab-like environments.

In an effort to change that, researchers have recently developed an experimental device, offering an interesting glimpse of what the future of wearable tech could look like, packing an impressive array of functionality into a device the size of a wristwatch.

Engineers at North Carolina State University have managed to build an innovative device that can track a person’s body chemistry in real-time as a way of identifying health problems. It works by monitoring a wide range of metabolites — markers that allow researchers to assess an individual’s metabolism. So, if someone’s metabolite levels are outside normal parameters, the device could let trainers or health professionals know that something’s wrong. Athletes could also use the device to help tailor training efforts to improve physical performance.

The gadget features a replaceable strip on the underside of the device that rests against the person’s skin, where embedded chemical sensors gather sweat data and feed it to the hardware inside the device. This, then, processes the data and sends findings to a paired smartphone.

While the work for the paper focuses on measuring glucose, lactate, and pH, the researchers could customize the sensor strips to monitor for other substances that work as markers for health and athletic performance—such as electrolytes.

The researchers are now running a study to further test the technology when it’s worn under a variety of conditions.

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