Wearable flexible stick-on sensors can help to monitor your sweat and pulse

Stanford University researchers developed stick-on sensors to monitor human body

As people are getting more concerned about their health and technology is helping them to monitor their activities. To help you monitor your health efficiently Stanford University and UC Berkeley researchers have developed flexible stick-on sensors.

Stanford’s BodyNet

Stanford University researchers developed sensors that stick like a band-aid on your body to detect physiological signals emanating from the skin which sends wireless readings using RFID to a receiver clipped onto clothing.

Stanford BodyNet flexible sensor to monitor body
(source: Stanford)

These sensors are made of metallic ink placed on top of a flexible material like that in an adhesive bandage. Unlike smartphones and smartwatches, which uses small accelerometers or optical tricks to track the body, it depends on how it is itself stretched and compressed and the movements in the sensor produces tiny changes to the metallic ink which sends signals to the processor.

To display this wearable technology, “the researchers stuck sensors to the wrist and abdomen of one test subject to monitor the person’s pulse and respiration by detecting how their skin stretched and contracted with each heartbeat or breath.”

The receiver which collects and re-transmits the sensor’s signal to a phone or other device doesn’t look like something you could wear to the gym or some places so its a work under to make it smaller and easy to use in future.

“We think one day it will be possible to create a full-body skin-sensor array to collect physiological data without interfering with a person’s normal behavior,” Stanford professor Zhenan Bao said in a news release.

UC Berkeley – Sweat Sensors

University of California, Berkeley researchers have been developing a sensor which can record sweat and analyze it directly from the body. The sensor development has been going on from a few years and now the researchers have moved to scale to see what exactly sweat measurements have to offer.

“The goal of the project is not just to make the sensors but start to do many subject studies and see what sweat tells us — I always say ‘decoding’ sweat composition. For that we need sensors that are reliable, reproducible, and that we can fabricate to scale so that we can put multiple sensors in different spots of the body and put them on many subjects,” explained Ali Javey, Berkeley professor and head of the project.

UC Berkeley team is working with their Finnish friends at VTT Technical Research Center, who make a specialty of roll-to-roll printing to go from a hand-built prototype to a mass-produced model.

“Roll-to-roll processing enables high-volume production of disposable patches at low cost and academic groups gain significant benefit from roll-to-roll technology when the number of test devices is not limiting the research. Additionally, up-scaled fabrication demonstrates the potential to apply the sweat-sensing concept in practical applications.” Jussi Hiltunen of VTT said.

The paper describing Stanford’s flexible sensor appeared this week in the journal Nature Electronics, while Berkeley’s sweat tracker was in Science Advances.

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