Image by Philipp Gutruf, Northwestern University

A Drop In The Ocean

Monitoring your health can sometimes be thirsty work the stress of which might leave you sweating bullets, but that may be more beneficial than you think thanks to a new kind of battery-free biosensor that relies on your sweat to gauge your health.

Most biosensors currently available rely on complicated digital electronic circuits, which add cost and the need for a battery to the device, or else they rely on a system of color-coded results, which can be difficult for the user to interpret. The new system, developed by researchers at Northwestern University and recently announced in the journal Science Advances, can be remotely powered by and sends data to your smartphone or any device capable of near field communication. It also absorbs your sweat to determine what's going on in your body.


Similar devices rely on cotton swabs to absorb sweat. This device, however, channels sweat into a system of pores which lead to different chambers within the patch. Each chamber helps measure a specific chemical biomarker such as glucose level, PH balance, and hydration status, among other medically important types of biological information.

“It brings fluids and chemical analysis into the realm of a skin-interfaced wearable that can operate in real-time in the field. Specifically, it provides the reader with visual information on sweat loss and sweat rate, along with the pH and electrolyte levels, and wireless digital data on glucose and lactate levels — all based on sweat," Professor John Rogers, a physical chemist and materials scientist at Northwestern, told Digital Trends.

Your Sweat Tells a Story

Similar technology already has promising applications, having been shown off by L'Oreal in the form of a UV tracking thumbnail device.  Northwestern's low-cost device could have a variety of impacts, such as helping athletes monitor their health during competition, as a diagnostic tool in patients with cystic fibrosis or kidney disease, or as a simpler way for people living with conditions like diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels without having to take blood samples. We may soon have a new way to keep tabs on our health and well-being. In the meantime, please, leave the sweat drinking to the biosensor patches out there.

READ MORE: Battery-free biosensor patch measures your health by drinking your sweat [DigitalTrends]

More on biosensors: Color-Changing Tattoos Could Help Millions Monitor Their Health in Real-Time

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