A team of international researchers has recently created a skin patch that enables monitoring an individual’s biometrics and also functions underwater. Working mechanism and uses of the new patch have been described in a research paper published in the journal Science Advances.
The patch has small holes on its underside to pull in sweat, easily attaches to the skin, and continuously takes small sweat samples throughout the day. After absorbing, the sweat travels through micro-channels to reach the collection chambers that serve as miniature test labs. One chamber measures the fluid level, another for chloride concentrations, another examines sweat loss, and so on. It is based on another patch the same team developed for use in land.
The patch is completely waterproof, powered by radio waves released by various electronic devices, and therefore doesn’t require batteries. Data stored can be accessed from a smartphone, transferred using near-field communications.
According to the researchers, it is intended for people who compete in the water such as swimmers, polo players, triathletes, and others. Metabolism varies between athletes so does the components of sweat.
The researchers said that elements present in the sweat contain markers for things such as cystic fibrosis, electrolyte, and dehydration levels. In addition, the patch could provide sportspersons, their coaches and trainers a clear view of how well the body is holding up during competition.
The patch was developed to be watertight by using a strong skin-safe adhesive and further by maintaining a small size and width of just 30mm. It is extremely flexible, making it ideal for athletes who rely on body movement. Apart from the water environment, the device can be used in other applications, the researchers said.
They have already field tested the patch in wide range of applications, from triathletes and swimmers to bike riders, some of whom were participating in real competitions. The researchers reported that the results have been encouraging; some of the devices were found to be capable of holding up to two hours of swimming.
Although the new device is not yet for sale, the researchers are closely working with a company called ‘Epicore Biosystems’ to make it a viable commercial product.